Coevolution Helps Santa’s Reindeer Feast After Flight; Reindeer Vision May Have Evolved to Spot Favorite Food in Snowy Dark of Winter

When Santa's exhausted reindeer finally set down their sleigh in the deep snow of the North Pole early Christmas morning, it's not Rudolph's radiant red nose that will help them find sustenance in the barren landscape. Instead, researchers from Dartmouth and the University of St. Andrews in Scotland report that the eyes of Rudolph and his reindeer brethren may have evolved so that they can spot their favorite food during dark and snowy Arctic winters, according to a new study in the journal i-Perception. The open-access article was published on December 15, 2023 and is titled “Reindeer and the Quest for Scottish Enlichenment.” The findings help explain the long-standing scientific mystery as to why reindeer can see light in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum—and add intrigue to the smiling airborne ungulates popularized in the classic story by 1926 Dartmouth graduate Robert L. May.
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