Reindeer can see invisible things. Of course.

BBC brings back our belief in Santa Claus with an update from the Arctic Circle… that reindeer can see ultraviolet light:

“If you’re a bumblebee, you wouldn’t think much of what this animal is doing because it’s seeing in what’s called ‘near UV’ (about 320 to 400nm), but that’s still very high energy stuff.”

The researchers believe UV vision could enable the reindeer to distinguish food and predators in the “white-out” of the Arctic winter and the twilight of spring and autumn.

Lichen, on which the animal feeds, would appear black to reindeer eyes, they say, because it absorbs UV light. The animal’s traditional predator, wolves, would also appear darker against the snow, as their fur absorbs UV light.

Urine in the snow would also be more discernable in UV vision, which might alert reindeer to the scent of predators or other reindeer.

They tested it by anesthetizing reindeer and watching what the sleeping animal’s retina did. Which would make me worry about an elf strike force out for revenge.

1 Comment

  1. It won’t be long until we humans can get bionic implants to see UV as well.

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