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Film Evidence Reveals The Truth About Rudolph's "Very Shiny Nose"

posted 19 Dec 2013, 10:07 by Mpelembe   [ updated 19 Dec 2013, 10:08 ]

Using an infrared camera, scientists in Sweden have video evidence of a signficant blood flow to the reindeer's nose that keeps it warm and gives it the reddish glow made famous by Rudolph, Santa's favourite sleigh-pulling helper. The findings, by researchers at the University of Lund, show that the lyrics to, 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' are more accurate than previously assumed.

HOOR, SWEDEN (LUND UNIVERSITY) Rudoph the Red Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose' is the first line of a Christmas classic, and for good reason as it turns out. Scientists have captured Rudolph's nose on film using a thermographic camera, and established that it is indeed warmer than the rest of its body.

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A research team at Lund University in Sweden filmed the reindeer at Skane Zoo, the world's largest zoo of Scandinavian animals.

"We haven't used normal video films but we've filmed in heat, that is, we have used the body's ownradiation and there you can see that the nose is a little bit warmer than the rest of the head and that fits in well with Christmas," Ronald Kroeger, Professor of Functional Zoology at Lund, said.

Kroeger says that when the reindeer eat in winter, their noses are exposed to very low temperatures as they search for food under the snow. They need to maintain their sensitivity in the nose in order to know what they are eating.

"Reindeer are working in a cold environment looking for food in the snow and then there is a risk that the nose gets too cold and simply freezes off if it's not warmed up. In order to warm it up, warm blood is pumped into the nose and then it becomes a little bit reddish even on normal pictures, but above all on the infrared pictures you can see that it is warmer than the rest of the head," Kroeger said.

Yet all mammals' noses are not designed in the same way and the scientists' next mission is to find out why dogs' noses are cold rather than warm.

"The reindeer's warm nose is easy to explain, they need it to retain feeling when they are looking for food in a cold environment, but we absolutely don't know anything about why dogs' noses are cold," Kroeger said.

Using tissue samples and infrared cameras, they hope to find the answer.

"We will discover why dogs have cold noses and why there are animals with cold and warm noses and what the differences between this types of animals," Kroeger said.

The Mammalian Rhinarium Group has been formed at Lund to study how various mammals obtain sensory information from their specialised, hairless and wet nose tips called rhinaria. It hopes to publish the results about dogs and their noses early next year.