Friday, December 22, 2017
Santa, turns out, did some savvy hiring of his prancing parade,he got female reindeer's pull his sleigh. The male reindeer shed their antlers at the end of the mating season in early December, while females sport their thinner antlers throughout the winter.Sounds like Rudolph and the gang were all gals. "It appears that way," said physiologist Perry Barboza of the Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska at Fairbanks, who studies reindeer and their closest cousins, caribou. Scientists consider reindeer and caribou the same species. While all reindeer would be equipped for an Arctic journey, though a flightless one, females might have the edge over their male counterparts.When the Christmas journey rolls around, male reindeer carry as low as 5 percent body fat, having lost much of their fatty stores during the energy-sapping mating season. Female reindeer, however, enter winter with about 50 percent body fat, making them "seals on hooves," Barboza said. The fat, which can be a couple of inches thick on their rumps, keeps the reindeer toasty in temperatures as low as minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 43 degrees Celsius). Which leaves us wondering, however, how they can be "faster than eagles," as legend has it. Santa's reindeer have another hoof up on other animal sleigh pullers: They can see in the ultraviolet range of the electromagnetic spectrum, something humans (and Santa) can't do. This vision ability will come in handy in the winter, said researchers who published a review of reindeer research in the journal Frontiers for Young Minds in 2015.