Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Lifestyle

Rudolph's adaptive eyes could pose Christmas problems

Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 02:28

Dec. 19 - Scientists have discovered that the colour of Arctic reindeers' eyes change dramatically between summer and winter, as they adapt to extreme changes of light intensity. The researchers say it's part of the animals' defence strategy, although for Santa's reindeer, they say it could also pose problems during next week's round-the-world present delivery marathon. Jim Drury has more.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

The Arctic reindeer is best known for helping Santa Claus deliver Christmas presents to the world's children. But it also possesses an evolutionary pecularity, according to scientists from University College London and the University of Tromso. The reindeer's eyes change colour to cope with the extremes of Arctic light conditions - from gold in summer to a deep blue in winter. The findings surprised lead researcher Professor Glen Jeffery. SOUNDBITE (English) GLEN JEFFERY, LEAD RESEARCHER, SAYING: "There was a clear distinction between summer and winter eyes and we were completely shocked by that. We'd never expected it, it was the last thing we were looking for, but it was the most obvious thing that you saw when you opened the eyes. Big colour change." Jeffrey's team make annual winter trips to the Arctic to examine reindeer eyes bought from slaughterhouses. But this year they travelled earlier than usual and by accident, discovered the colour change - the first ever spotted in a mammal. A layer of tissue called the tapetum lucidum lies behind the retina and reflects light back through the eye to enhance night vision. By changing its colour the tapetum can cope with either extreme darkness or extreme light. The team also placed gold electrodes underneath the eyelids of live, sedated reindeer in order to see their visual threshold. The findings suggested the colour change may be caused by pressure within the eyes. In winter, seasonal pupil dilation compresses the tapetum, allowing the shorter wavelengths of the blue light common in Arctic winters to be reflected. Jeffery says the reindeers' winter eye allows it to detect predators moving in the darkness. SOUNDBITE (English) GLEN JEFFERY, LEAD RESEARCHER, SAYING: "That is the primary problem for the reindeer. 'Can I see something moving? That is a potential threat. I've got to run, I've got to move.' So he needs to be sensitive to low light levels and he needs to be sensitive to movement at low light levels." But for Santa's reindeer, that seasonal sensitivity could pose problems on Christmas eve. SOUNDBITE (English) GLEN JEFFERY, LEAD RESEARCHER, SAYING: "When Rudolf comes down from the Arctic he's going to be very very dark adapted and he's going to have a blue eye and the one thing we don't want Rudolf to do is to come up against a whole load of street lights and a whole load of front room lights, so a good thing if you want Rudolf to call in at your place might be draw the curtains, so he doesn't get glared by all the light." ...although it's also possible that Santa himself has adapted, and equipped his sleigh with sunglasses.

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

Rudolph's adaptive eyes could pose Christmas problems

Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 02:28

Top News »

Most Popular »

Retirement »

Investing 201 »

Bond investors brace for the end of Fed stimulus Bond investors brace for the end of Fed...

Fri, Oct 10, 2014 - (4:03)

Arian Foster = BlackBerry? Arian Foster = BlackBerry?

Fri, Oct 25, 2013 - (3:16)

Don’t miss these red flags for IPOs Don’t miss these red flags for IPOs

Thu, Oct 10, 2013 - (2:34)

Copycat currency trading Copycat currency trading

Wed, Oct 02, 2013 - (2:28)

When to dump a winner When to dump a winner

Tue, Sep 24, 2013 - (1:55)

Where gold might again attract Jim Rogers Where gold might again attract Jim Rogers

Thu, Sep 19, 2013 - (2:05)

Why savings interest rates won't budge Why savings interest rates won't budge

Fri, Sep 13, 2013 - (2:09)

Buy local? ETFs try the trend Buy local? ETFs try the trend

Thu, Sep 05, 2013 - (2:42)

The better bond funds The better bond funds

Wed, Aug 07, 2013 - (2:40)

Best bargain in 40 years? European stocks Best bargain in 40 years? European stocks

Thu, Aug 01, 2013 - (2:24)

Invest like an activist Invest like an activist

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 - (2:49)

Why bruised Brazil is a buy Why bruised Brazil is a buy

Fri, Jul 19, 2013 - (2:48)

3 ways to fix your bond portfolio 3 ways to fix your bond portfolio

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 - (3:10)

The next gold? Diamonds lure investors The next gold? Diamonds lure investors

Wed, Jul 03, 2013 - (2:38)

How to play the Fed’s tapering timeline How to play the Fed’s tapering timeline

Thu, Jun 20, 2013 - (2:34)

How to play banker on the web How to play banker on the web

Tue, Jun 11, 2013 - (2:57)

3 surprises about the 2013 stock rally 3 surprises about the 2013 stock rally

Fri, May 24, 2013 - (2:11)

How to cash in on lawsuits - Investing 201 How to cash in on lawsuits - Investing 201

Tue, Apr 30, 2013 - (2:30)

Rising dollar will drive stocks higher Rising dollar will drive stocks higher

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 - (2:32)

A little-known path to big dividends - Investing 201 A little-known path to big dividends -...

Thu, Apr 04, 2013 - (3:16)

What exactly does Warren Buffett own? - Investing 201 What exactly does Warren Buffett own? -...

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 - (0:51)

Big short bets: Where are they now? - Investing 201 Big short bets: Where are they now? -...

Fri, Dec 21, 2012 - (2:33)

Money Clip »

How to get out of debt How to get out of debt

Thu, Oct 30, 2014 - (3:37)

Will Apple Pay transform mobile payments? Will Apple Pay transform mobile payments?

Thu, Oct 16, 2014 - (2:45)

3 things to do before disaster strikes 3 things to do before disaster strikes

Wed, Sep 18, 2013 - (1:39)

Your must-do money list Your must-do money list

Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - (1:24)

The worst "best" financial advice The worst "best" financial advice

Wed, Sep 04, 2013 - (1:42)

Forget gold: The case for REITs Forget gold: The case for REITs

Fri, Apr 26, 2013 - (1:19)

3 rules for buying a house now 3 rules for buying a house now

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 - (1:39)

“Stalking” your dream home - Money Clip “Stalking” your dream home - Money Clip

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 - (2:50)

3 hidden tax deductions - Money Clip 3 hidden tax deductions - Money Clip

Thu, Mar 21, 2013 - (1:33)

How to break your prenup - Money Clip How to break your prenup - Money Clip

Thu, Mar 07, 2013 - (1:18)

Watch your wallet on Pinterest - Money Clip Watch your wallet on Pinterest - Money Clip

Thu, Feb 21, 2013 - (1:33)

Get set for the big bull run - Money Clip Get set for the big bull run - Money Clip

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 - (3:41)

Moving Pictures »

Images of October Images of October

Mon, Nov 03, 2014 - (0:57)

The world in a city The world in a city

Fri, Oct 31, 2014 - (1:30)

Real-life superheroes Real-life superheroes

Tue, Oct 28, 2014 - (1:44)

Dance of the northern lights Dance of the northern lights

Mon, Oct 20, 2014 - (1:08)

Images of September Images of September

Wed, Oct 01, 2014 - (1:00)

Still missing – MH370 Still missing – MH370

Fri, Sep 05, 2014 - (2:05)

Burning Together Burning Together

Mon, Sep 01, 2014 - (2:23)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (3:12)

Images of August Images of August

Fri, Aug 29, 2014 - (1:00)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Thu, Jul 03, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - (3:04)

World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals

Fri, Jun 06, 2014 - (1:08)

VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light

Fri, May 30, 2014 - (1:37)

The week that changed Boston The week that changed Boston

Mon, Apr 14, 2014 - (3:28)

360° snapshot of life in Kabul 360° snapshot of life in Kabul

Fri, Apr 04, 2014 - (1:26)

A blind teenager, living with vision A blind teenager, living with vision

Thu, Mar 27, 2014 - (3:51)

TIMELAPSE: Backstage at the Oscars TIMELAPSE: Backstage at the Oscars

Wed, Mar 05, 2014 - (2:49)

TIMELAPSE: Lunch with Oscar nominees TIMELAPSE: Lunch with Oscar nominees

Wed, Feb 12, 2014 - (2:55)

Sochi Highlights: Let the games begin Sochi Highlights: Let the games begin

Fri, Feb 07, 2014 - (0:40)

TIMELAPSE: On the Golden Globes red carpet TIMELAPSE: On the Golden Globes red carpet

Tue, Jan 14, 2014 - (3:28)

Pictures of the Year 2013 Pictures of the Year 2013

Fri, Dec 20, 2013 - (3:03)

Marching to the beat of Sousa's drum Marching to the beat of Sousa's drum

Thu, Dec 05, 2013 - (6:11)

The Gettysburg Address The Gettysburg Address

Thu, Nov 28, 2013 - (2:31)

Making Gruyere: A family affair Making Gruyere: A family affair

Wed, Oct 16, 2013 - (5:06)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (10:39)

Lessons of the Jihad Jane case - Reuters Investigates Lessons of the Jihad Jane case - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (3:43)

Exclusive: Jihad Jane in her own words Exclusive: Jihad Jane in her own words

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (4:11)

Attorney: How a Maryland teenager became radicalized - Reuters Investigates Attorney: How a Maryland teenager became...

Fri, Dec 07, 2012 - (4:21)

Counselor: Jihad Jane at 17 - Reuters Investigates Counselor: Jihad Jane at 17 - Reuters...

Thu, Dec 06, 2012 - (4:17)

Dateline Asia »

Chinese president's "pivot" to Australia Chinese president's "pivot" to Australia

Fri, Nov 21, 2014 - (1:59)

Landmark stock connect deal "just the beginning": HKEx CEO Landmark stock connect deal "just the...

Mon, Nov 17, 2014 - (6:39)

Could Japan GDP figures portend fresh elections? Could Japan GDP figures portend fresh...

Wed, Nov 12, 2014 - (1:42)

HKEx afloat despite lacking the Shanghai connection HKEx afloat despite lacking the Shanghai...

Fri, Nov 07, 2014 - (2:06)

Stocks soar, yen sinks on Japan stimulus shocker Stocks soar, yen sinks on Japan stimulus...

Fri, Oct 31, 2014 - (1:38)

Breakingviews: Fleeting QE gains bring emerging market pains Breakingviews: Fleeting QE gains bring...

Wed, Oct 29, 2014 - (2:05)