The Evolution of the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Cute for evolutionary reasons.

The Holiday Season is upon us, the glorious Winter Solstice is only days away. This seems a good time to address in a rational manner one of the Season’s most beloved tales.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer elicits in many Americans deep spiritual feelings. It is not my purpose to disparage those feelings. But the toughminded among us must step forward to separate fact from fiction, history from legend, and, above all, science from religion.

Rudolph teaches valuable lessons on perseverance, leadership, and the power of crossgender affirmations of physical attractiveness. But the story–I want to be delicate but firm here– is not a scientific account of how the rednosed reindeer came to be as a speciesContinue reading