Reindeers can't fly but can see in UV

Verdict's still out on flying and pulling robust white men in big red suits, but reindeer have recently been discovered to have a pretty cool power of sorts: they can see in UV. Well, not that they can see in UV, but that they do see the world in UV.

Since these guys live in the Arctic, there are three months of almost no light, and three months of nothing but, during the year. Being able to see in UV helps sidestep the light problem, at least visually.

Researchers at University College London found that seeing in UV holds three specific advantages: they can see the yellow snow, they can see their food and they can see predators.

Seeing urine in snow offers a wealth of information about other animals in the area, including predators and another reindeer. And since their coats, and wolves' coats (their main predator), absorb UV rays, they can easily spot friends and enemies alike.

Of course, in humans, UV rays are extremely dangerous to the eyeball. Hence the whole don't-stare-directly-into-the-sun idiom. But reindeers' eyes appear completely untouched by the rays. The why in this scenario remains unanswered.

Learn more and see some side-by-side UV-to-normal-light comparisons below.

Via EarthSky

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