Slay­ing myths:

Rein­deer never laughed or called poor Rudolph names – they’re all colour blind

Irish Independent - - News - Rod Minchin

RUDOLPH the rein­deer prob­a­bly was not bul­lied for his crim­son snout – be­cause he and his fel­low rein­deer can­not see red.

In news that may come as a shock in the North Pole, Univer­sity of Ex­eter sci­en­tists have re­vealed that Santa’s sleigh-pullers are miss­ing the colour-de­tect­ing eye cells that al­lows hu­mans use to de­tect red.

The same ap­plies to orange – mean­ing Don­ner, Bl­itzen and the rest also might strug­gle to spot any tasty car­rots left out for them at Christ­mas.

“Rein­deer can’t see red light or tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween red, orange and green,” ex­plained Pro­fes­sor Martin Stevens, of the Univer­sity of Ex­eter.

“So they wouldn’t be able to see the red of Rudolph’s nose or the orange of car­rots.

“How­ever, they do have ul­tra­vi­o­let vi­sion, and 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.

“So a cam­ou­flaged white wolf to us would stand out to rein­deer.”

Apart from the UV vi­sion, rein­deer eye­sight is a lit­tle like that of dogs, which are also un­able to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween red, orange and green.

Prof Stevens and his col­leagues’ work on an­i­mal vi­sion also in­cludes horses, lead­ing to a trial of new colours on fences at race­courses.

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