Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer absolutely had a very shiny nose, but did it really help him find his way through a foggy Christmas Eve sky?
The study was recently published in the journal Frontiers For Young Minds, a journal focused on answering questions aimed at children in hopes of stimulating an interest in science. Nathaniel J. Dominy is a professor of Anthroplogy at Dartmouth who claims Rudolph’s effectiveness comes from the Arctic reindeer’s special vision.
Dominy claims that “New findings about the color vision of reindeer could hold important clues about the value of a luminescent nose.” Reindeer can see in the ultraviolet spectrum which is invisible to humans, but it helps reindeer spot important things such as predators and food.
This is important because the sun’s position in the sky during an arctic winter casts much more UV-light than normal, so being able to see UV rays would allow Rudolph to lead the sleigh more effectively.
The reindeer’s eyes also adjust to see different types of light depending on the season—yellows and reds during the summer and blues during the winter. Fog would block out most blue light, so Rudolph’s red nose is necessary to see through the fog.
Such a vascular nose would lose heat very quickly in the cold winter air, so Dominy claims in a statement that “it is imperative for children to provide high-calorie foods to help Rudolph replenish his energetic reserves of Christmas Eve.”
So please don’t forget to put out some Christmas cookies for Santa and his team of reindeer. Dominy claims that the frequency of foggy weather is declining worldwide due to climate change, but there’s still a chance that Rudolph’s luminescent nose will be necessary on this Christmas Eve.
Feature Image: DreamWorks Classics