You may have heard that Rudolph the Reindeer has a very shiny red nose.
Now scientists think they might know what’s causes this alarming condition.
Researchers at the University of Brighton have published a ‘light-hearted’ paper which suggests that the chemical reaction which makes fireflies glow could also cause Rudolph’s hooter to light up.
This natural process is called bioluminescence and is also seen in deep sea fish and other beasties on Planet Earth.
Dr Angelo Pernetta, a conservation ecologist and deputy head of the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, said: ‘The paper is a response to a previously published paper, which discussed why Rudolph had a red nose.
‘It has already proved a very valuable experience for the students involved – one student recently secured a funded PhD studentship at Warwick University and he mentioned his involvement in the production of this paper definitely played a part.’
The previous paper said Rudolph’s nose glows due to ‘exertion of pulling a heavy load’ and the ‘excessive stresses endured whilst flying with Santa and the sleigh in tow’.
All this overwork was said to caused hypothermia whilst overloading the nasal cooling system, causing it to glow vivid and red.
But the new paper questioned these claims and suggested Santa may have specifically chosen to help him because of the advantages conferred by his light up conk.
‘The fact that Rudolph’s nose glows red has previously been noted as being advantageous in foggy conditions, since it is the most visible colour in fog,’ it said.
‘This would suggest that Rudolph was specifically chosen because of this adaptive trait and would suggest that, far from being caused by excessive strain from pulling Santa Claus and the sleigh, his red nose was in fact caused by bioluminescence to aid in navigation.
‘We believe we have found a scientific answer to this age-old question. Now all we need is to do is discover how Rudolph and his fellow reindeer manage to fly.’