The headline is not the start of Christmas joke. Scientists have found that a reindeer’s nose is red because it is richly supplied with red blood cells, which help to protect the animal from getting too cold and to regulate brain temperature.
Linking scientific study into the festive season, scientists have stated that tiny blood cells in the nose of the reindeer are vital for delivering oxygen, controlling inflammation, and regulating temperature.
Reindeer are a species of deer native to Arctic and Subarctic regions, characterized by antlers. In relation to Christmas, reindeer traditionally help to pull the sleigh of Santa Claus and as he delivers Christmas gifts
For the research, the scientists compared the proportion of blood vessels in the nose of people and compared them to reindeers. It was found that the reindeer has 25% more densely compacted blood vessels compared to a person.
The researchers also found a high density of mucous glands scattered throughout the reindeer noses, which they say helps to act as a barrier against the cold. Furthermore, infrared thermal images showed that reindeer do indeed have red noses.
A summary of the research is shown in this video:
The research was undertaken by scientists based in the Netherlands and Norway. The news about the temperature regulation of reindeers has been published in the British Medical Journal (on-line).