Reindeer can find their food in the snow because they see ultraviolet rays

Reindeer can find their food in the snow because they see ultraviolet rays

Reindeer eyes have evolved so that, Even in the snowThey are able to find food. They do this thanks to an adaptation that allows them to see ultraviolet light Amazing ability This is what a team of researchers explained in an article published In “i-Perception”, it allows them to survive in a harsh climate where not only is everything white in winter, but there is also little sunlight.

Animals that have a favorite food

The main food of reindeer is A type of lichen Called Cladonia rangiferina, it forms land surfaces in large parts of the planet's northern latitudes. So it is a living being Important For their survival, the ability of these ungulates to find them is also very important.

The authors of these studies worked in the Cairngorms, in Highlands of Scotland. It is home to Britain's only reindeer herd, which was reintroduced after hunting drove the animals to extinction in the area. There, moreover, they live more than 1500 species Of lichens, but despite this reindeer continue to focus on 'C. rangiferina to survive the winter.

Amazing adaptation

Added to this strange feature is the fact that these lichens are white to humans Impossible to see In the middle of winter snow in the Arctic. However, researchers discovered that 'C. Rangiferina, as well as some other lichens that reindeer also feed on, Absorbs ultraviolet rays.

The reindeer's vision changes in winter so they can find food in an almost entirely white landscape | Dartmouth College

This is why, as has been verified, reindeer see them as well dark spots In the middle of the bright white landscape. A big difference from what we humans see that makes these lichens their food It's very easy to find. Therefore, in times when the landscape is very cold and desolate, they do not have to invest much energy wandering around in search of food, as they can see it from afar and make the most of calories to survive the winter.

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Reindeer eyes change with the season

This discovery coincides with a fact revealed by previous studies: that The reindeer's eyes change Depending on whether it is summer or winter. The tapetum lucidum, a membrane that improves light perception and makes many animals appear bright-eyed in photographs, changes from a golden color during the warm season to a Very vibrant blue This apparently amplifies what little light reaches the polar regions during the cold season.

It is this blue-hued “net rug” that makes it almost exactly that 60% of UV rays Access to the reindeer's color sensors, making winter It is dyed purple – As we see black light – but with snow falling while lichens appear dark and easy to distinguish. An adaptation that allows them to find food quickly and survive in some of the harshest places on the planet.

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