|Elizabeth Sorkin and a pair of reindeer, Elizabeth is one of the scientists involved in explaining how Santa's reindeer do certain things, such as fly|
You know their names, we all know their names. I think just about everybody knows the names of those helpful little animals that, come every Christmas Eve, help Santa Claus pull his sleigh. You know – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. Those nine reindeer faithfully, every year pull Santa Claus’s sleigh to help him deliver presents to all the children of the world. Over the years, a lot of myths have come up about these deer. One of the biggest myths of all is also the most surprising. How can I break it to you? After careful research, scientists have concluded that Santa’s reindeer buddies aren’t the majestic, awe-inspiring bucks we often see depicted. Instead, these reindeer are majestic awe-inspiring . . . does (pronounced as doehs)! Yes, you did read right. Santa’s reindeer that haul the sleigh full of toys are actually female! How is this possible? Well, my trusty junior photographer, Daniel P. Smithwater and I headed over to Dr. Elizabeth Sorkin, the veterinarian at Animal Adventures Institute to learn about this reindeer myth. Dr. Elizabeth says, “The reason why we now know Santa’s reindeer are female is because of a few reasons. First of all, right after the rut in the winter, male reindeer, like all other deer, lost their antlers, while females keep their antlers all year long. Also, soon after the rut, reindeer bucks are tired from the fighting with other males over females. The reindeer pulling the sleigh have to contend with a load of toys AND a plump little man while they fly through the night air.” After asking why male reindeer are normally what is seen in Christmas movies, she says, “This is because most Christmas movies are actually filmed in the summer. Very few Christmas movies are filmed in the winter. During the summer, reindeer bucks are big and strong, even stronger than the does. So naturally, they choose these deer for the movies and ever since, people have always been confused.” Wow, this is shocking, I mean, we’ve all grown up thinking these deer were male.
On the topic of reindeer, I decided to ask Dr. Elizabeth another popular question came to mind: How do reindeer fly? Dr. Elizabeth is quoted to saying, “A lot of people have different ideas about how reindeer fly. This is because no one knows. I have my own theory: if you’ve ever seen the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, you’ll recall that Charlie and his grandpa were able to float because of this special drink they drunk. The drink filled them with gas and this was how they could float. (However, unlike the movie, reindeer have more control in the air and don’t have to burp to get the gas out of their body). I did my research and found out that the drink was made from a special type of corn that grows only in below freezing temperatures. It is called Zea mays hellifer, a.k.a. “Magic Feed Corn”. I believe that “Magic Feed Corn” is fed to the reindeer and this is what lifts them off the ground and helps Santa deliver presents to children all over the world.”
Then yet another question that has puzzled me since forever: how does Rudolph’s nose glow? “No one is quite sure why Rudolph’s nose glows the way it does,” she says, “but there are many theories. One theory – the Sun-to-Nose Theory – is that light from the sun, moon, or whatever light source is around hits the nose and something inside the nose makes the light bounce back from the nose and to every other direction. One problem with this theory is that the light from Rudolph’s nose shines on and off, with or without another light source. Another possibly theory is the Hot Nose Theory. This theory suggests that Rudolph’s nose is lit up by the hot air coming out of her nose. Another theory – the Firefly-Nose Theory – is that perhaps inside Rudolph’s nose, there are two chemicals, luciferase and luciferin, the same chemicals that make a firefly’s tail shine. So perhaps this is why her nose glows.”
Wow! We learned a lot about Santa’s Best Friends. Now you know how they fly, what gender they really are and why Rudolph’s nose glows. Most of the reindeers’ names are unisex, so there’s no problem with most of them. If the name “Rudolph” sounds a bit boyish to you, you can simply call her the name in the song that we can now all sing, “Rudolpha, the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose . . .”
Written by: Mr. Smiley
Photographed by: Daniel P. Smithwater
Edited by: Christian Ryan
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