Why Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Is a Lie, According to Science

Has nothing to do with the red nose.

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But did you know that all of Santa’s reindeer are actually…ladies? A wildlife biologist has confirmed the stunning news to Inverse.

For so long, so many of us have incorrectly assumed that the famous reindeer are males, which is in part due to Hollywood propaganda from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, in which the titular character is a male. And while St. Nick’s reindeer are always depicted with full antlers, science suggests that this is almost a definite giveaway that none of them are males.

This revelation was inspired by a now-viral tweet on Tuesday, which accurately captures the gravity of the situation:

I know you’re thinking that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. But according to wildlife biologist Imogene Cancellare, though both male and female reindeers grow antlers, at this time of year, Santa’s Squad would almost definitely be all-female.

“Males shed their antlers in late autumn, and antlered females shed in early spring,” she tells Inverse. “This has to do with the female’s need to defend resources during pregnancy. Not all female caribou (reindeer) have antlers, but for Santa’s crew to have antlers in December, they would be females.”

Artist's rendition of Santa and his reindeer.

There’s more to it than just the antlers. Around the time of winter we assume Santa makes his journey, male reindeer carry very little body fat — around 5 percent, in fact. Females, on the other hand, carry around 50 percent body fat in the winter, allowing them to keep warm during the cold months. Therefore, female reindeer are heartier and better prepared for a cheery romp around the world.

So while the mainstream media would have you believe Rudolph and his pals are just a bunch of good ol’ boys, don’t be fooled. The reality is that a powerful network of female reindeer support each other through the winter months to spread cheer each holiday season. We salute them.

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