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Are Santa's Reindeer Males? | Live Science
Colton Kruse — December 20, Here are a few surprising facts about the peculiar creature that is the reindeer. Most Christmas decorations depict reindeer in a similar vein, but these portrayals are closer to an amalgamation of other deer species than they are to an actual reindeer. Reindeer come in 14 subspecies — two of which are extinct — and they look nothing like their cartoon counterparts.
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While their colors and size vary, reindeer are invariably stocky, with thick necks, big hooves and square noses. Antlers are branched bones that shed and grow back every year.
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These ornaments are exclusive to the deer family, which includes moose and elk. Deer exhibit sexual dimorphism, meaning the males and females have separate and identifiable physical characteristics.
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Some deer species have no antlers at all. Reindeer live primarily in the Arctic, where winter is drastically colder and darker than the summer. Reindeer hooves are soft during warmer months, but in the winter, their hooves become hard and sharp for breaking through the ice to forage vegetation.
As a result of seasonal changes in light levels, reindeer eyes adapt.
Their tapetum — the part of the eye behind the iris — changes color from gold in the summer to blue in the winter. Reindeer also shed their fluffy winter coats in the summer. Males and females both shed their antlers and grow them back each year, but in different seasons. Diabetes researcher Andy Karter lived in Norway herding reindeer for a decade.
The temperatures were so cold that they needed a warm material for clothing. So they dressed head to toe in reindeer skins, he said. The skins are so warm because reindeer have two layers of hair: a dense undercoat, and a top layer of hollow hair.
Are Santa's Reindeer Males?
Some populations travel up to 3, miles and swim long distances along the way. People have even used reindeer hair to fill life jackets, Karter said.
For the Sami people, native to Scandinavia, reindeer herding is a major part of the heritage and economy. They, along with other indigenous people in the Arctic and subarctic, raise reindeer primarily for meat, which they eat and sell. Medical testimony in murder trial disputes accused killer's claim News.
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