Science News

Rudolf…or Should That Be Rudolfa?

Sun, 16th Dec 2001

Part of the show Pain, and Pain-relief (analgesia)

Since we are supposed to be journalists we've tried to dig up some dirt on famous people this week. I have found out some very strange things about some of our best-loved Christmas celebrities - Santa and his reindeer. For instance did you know that Rudolf the red nosed reindeer is probably female? A guy called Odd Halverson from Oslo University worked that one out - Its because in all the Christmas cards Rudolf and his reindeer friends all have antlers. But in real life, male reindeer don't have antlers at Christmas time! The whole point of antlers is to fight with other males during the mating season, which happens earlier on in the year. After the mating season the male reindeers are very low on energy reserves so their antlers fall off and don't grow again until the spring. So the only way that Rudolf the reindeer can have kept his antlers is if he is actually female. One other rather unpleasant possibility is that he was castrated - apparently most of the native Lapps traditionally used castrated reindeer to pull their loads.


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