BOFFINS at Edinburgh University are set to rock the foundations of Christmas this year – by revealing that Rudolph the reindeer is female.
Top biology scientists are to showcase the shocking revelation that Santa’s little help-her is really Rudolphine, at a university talk on 9 December.
Professor of biological timings Gerard Lincoln and retired Edinburgh University Professor David Baird made the discovery after finding that only female reindeers have antlers at Christmas, while males have shed theirs much earlier in the year.
Professor Lincoln said: “Rudolph classically is this red-nosed reindeer who is around at Christmas.
“We picture him in the snow with his antlers, but if you get to know anything about nature you discover things are not quite so straightforward.“The male reindeer actually cast their antlers before Christmas, so they don’t have any antlers at Christmastime.
“They have their mating season in autumn when they use their antlers to fight each other, but once it finishes they cast them in the middle of the winter.
“So you can’t picture Rudolph as a big red-nosed macho male because he has cast his antlers already.
“And he can’t arrive on your doorstep with his antlers on, looking handsome.”
There are 40 different species of deer in the world, but only in reindeer are females with antlers found.
Females cast off their antlers in spring, so they can grow them back in time for Christmas.
They need antlers in the winter months to dig through snow and hard ground to find food for their offspring.
However Prof. Lincoln added that there is another possibility – Rudolph could be a eunuch.
He said: “If a male reindeer is castrated it stops the process of casting the antlers in the winter time, and they turn into being more like females.
“Rudolph could be a castrated male, or a female – I think it’s nicest to think that Rudolph was a female.”