Rudolph's shiny red nose may be tied to eyes that glow blue
CONCORD, N.H. - Everyone knows Rudolph has a red nose but what about his eyes?
A Dartmouth College anthropology professor who was prompted by questions from his 4-year-old daughter recently wrote a scholarly paper on how the unusual properties of reindeer eyes might explain the advantage of a glowing red nose.
Nathaniel Dominy says reflective tissue in a reindeer's eye changes from golden to deep blue in winter, which may help the animal spot food and predators in dim December light. But that trait is a disadvantage in fog, which blocks blue light. Red light travels farthest in fog, making it ideal for lighting Santa's way.
Dominy's paper adds to Dartmouth's special connection to the classic Christmas story, which was written in 1939 by an alumnus as an advertisement for Montgomery Ward.