Scientists Explains Why Reindeer Have Red Noses (Smithsonian)

Photo from, courtesy of Kia Krarup Hansen

When children’s book author Robert May created the “legendary luminous red nose” of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in his Christmas tale, he was — somewhat — describing how reindeer actually look, according to Some reindeer native to Arctic regions have red noses. And now a new study argues that these noses, caused by a dense number of blood vessels, help regulate the body temperature of the deer in extreme environments.

The authors write that their study’s objective was “to characterise the functional morphology of the nasal microcirculation in humans in comparison with reindeer as a means of testing the hypothesis that the luminous red nose of Rudolph, one of the most well known reindeer pulling Santa Claus’s sleigh, is due to the presence of a highly dense and rich nasal microcirculation.”

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