Rudolph wouldn’t be bullied for his nose, science says
IT is a classic Christmas tale of a reindeer teased for being different who wins in the end.
But in news that may rock the North Pole, Rudolph the RedNosed Reindeer is not factually accurate.
The other reindeer would not actually have teased Rudolph over his crimson snout, scientists have suggested. They would not have noticed it as reindeer cannot see red because of a lack of colour-detecting cells in their eyes.
Professor Martin Stevens, an expert on animal vision from the University of Exeter in the UK, says it is highly doubtful Rudolph’s friends would have laughed and called him names, much less never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.
That is because while humans have three cone cells in their eyes, allowing them to tell the difference between red and green, reindeer only have two.
They simply could not see Rudolph’s red nose, although they can see colours in the yellow range and ultraviolet light, allowing them to detect white predators against the snow.
Professor Stevens, who questioned the festive song at an event called The Science of Christmas, said: ‘Santa would be able to see the colour of Rudolph’s nose as most humans have enough types of cone cell to see red and orange colours.
‘But the other reindeer could not, and may also struggle to find the orange carrots left out for them at Christmas time.
‘Although the traditional Christmas story may not be quite true, knowing how different animals may see the world and how perception of colour varies from one species to another is magical in its own way.’
When it comes to Christmas characters, the turkey has better vision than Santa or Rudolph, according to the animal expert.
Birds can see all the colours humans can, plus the ultraviolet range. This helps turkeys detect blue feathers on each others’ heads which are attractive in a mate.
But reindeer have broadly similar vision to dogs and horses, so find it hard to distinguish between red, orange and green.
Professor Stevens said: ‘They use this to see lichen hidden in the snow in the arctic, and potentially even spot white wolves or other predators because fur absorbs UV light whereas snow reflects UV light.’
Rudolph the Reindeer was famously ostracised for his red nose, before being chosen by Santa Claus to pull his sleigh because of its glow.
False: Rudolph would be included