The Reason Rudolph's Nose Is So Bright

Lots of blood vessels, researchers explain
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2012 1:08 PM CST
Updated Dec 24, 2012 3:27 PM CST
Study Reveals Why Rudolph's Nose Is So Bright
Rudolph is shown in a screenshot from   (

Everyone knows Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has "a very shiny nose" that even, some might say, "glows." But why? A new—and, The Local notes, tongue-in-cheek—investigation explains. Researchers in Norway and the Netherlands compared reindeer noses to human noses and found that reindeer have 25% more blood vessels in their nasal lining, which help control body temperature—an important task when you're flying all around the globe in a single evening. Researchers had reindeer walk on a treadmill, and observed that afterward, "they do indeed have red noses," MedPage Today reports.

"Rudolph's nose is red because it is richly supplied with red blood cells, comprises a highly dense microcirculation, and is anatomically and physiologically adapted for reindeer to carry out their flying duties for Santa Claus," say the researchers. They also estimated that in order to get Christmas presents to everybody on time, Rudolph would have to lead Santa's team at 650 miles per second—a speed that would vaporize them, unless Rudolph could protect them with an ion shield. (More Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer stories.)

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