Reindeer Eyes Turn Blue as Christmas Nears

Did you know a reindeer’s eyes change color in winter?

The fictional Rudolph had a shiny nose to cope with winter darkness, but real-life reindeer possess some magic of their own. Part of the reindeer eye shifts from gold to winter blue, improving their ability to use light when the days become shorter, according to a new study.

The study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B, helps to explain how Arctic reindeer continue to see in near darkness.

The part of the eye that changes color is the tapetum lucidum, commonly known as the ‘cat’s eye.’ It resides under an unpigmented part of the retina.

“In summer, it is golden with most light reflected back directly through the retina, whereas in winter it is deep blue with less light reflected out of the eye,” wrote Karl-Arne Stokkan, of the University of Tromso in Norway, and colleagues.

Stokka was able to study reindeer right at the university. Several were brought in from mountain region herders. They were maintained in large outdoor pens. The researchers studied their eyes during two weeks on either side of the summer and winter solstices.

Read the full story here.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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