Science Explains Why Rudolph Really Did Have a Red Nose

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While most of us are no longer convinced that Santa Claus exists, researchers in the Netherlands have revealed why Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is more real than just a children's song. According to a recent study published by BMJ, there is an actual scientific explanation behind why some reindeer do in fact have red noses.

Researchers uncovered a small group of reindeer native to the Arctic regions in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia and Scandinavia who actually do have a distinct red coloring in their noses. According to Live Science, reindeers have 25 percent more capillaries carrying red, oxygen-rich blood in their noses than humans. This dense network of blood vessels causes their noses to turn a certain shade of red. Scientists were able to find this by using a tiny microscope. They examined the noses of two reindeer and were able to compare their blood vessels to five human volunteers. See more in the video below.

Another study was conducted by Dr. Erwin J.O. Kompanje and his team at the Erasmus MC University Medical Center in Rotterdam. They studied a group of reindeers at the Rotterdam Zoo. They concluded the following: "There is a scientific explanation for the observation that the nose of Rudolph is red. The exceptional physical burden of flying with a sleigh with Santa Claus as a heavy load could have caused cerebral and bodily hyperthermia, resulting in an overworked nasal cooling mechanism that resembles an overheated cooling radiator in a car: Rudolph suffered from hyperemia of the nasal mucosa (a red nose) under more extreme heat loads during flight with a sleigh."

In other words, researchers found that when reindeers are in colder climates or in higher elevations (such as flying Santa's sleigh?), the increase in blood flow to the nose helps to keep their noses warm. It also helps regulate the animal's internal body temperature.

Another method in which scientists concluded that reindeer noses can turn red was by putting the antlered animal on a treadmill (as seen in the video above). Afterwards, the reindeer's nose showed up as red in a thermographic image.

"These results highlight the intrinsic physiological properties of Rudolph's legendary luminous red nose, which help to protect it from freezing during sleigh rides and to regulate the temperature of the reindeer's brain, factors essential for flying reindeer pulling Santa Claus's sleigh under extreme temperatures," researchers said. Amazing!


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