Rudolph wouldn’t be bul­lied for his nose, sci­ence says

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By Vic­to­ria Allen [email protected]­ly­

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

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