For Christmas, the ScienceGrrl Oxford (and Irchester!) Chapter have decided to celebrate girls in STEM at Christmas and give you 12 days of surprising Christmasssy science facts! Here is #ScienceGrrl #12days fact No. 1
Reindeer and caribou are the only deer where males and females grow antlers. Males use their antlers for social dominance while females normally use their antlers for protecting precious food resources.
Like other deer, reindeer shed their antlers annually. Males drop their antlers after the mating season usually by the start of December. Normally, the females keep their antlers until a week or so after calving. Females lose their antlers in spring, growing them back in time for winter when they need their antlers to compete with other females over holes they dig in the snow to reach lichens and to provide food for their offspring.
So what does that mean for Santa? It means, that we can assume that as all the reindeer we see pulling Santa’s sleigh in December have beautiful velvety antlers then they are probably all females and probably all pregnant! In fact, even their names could seem more fitting for girl reindeer – Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Look’s like we’re going to have to change “him”s to “her”s in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!
For more science facts about Christmas follow #12days and #sciencegrrl on twitter!