Rudolph might have been the laughing stock of all his reindeer peers, but an observational study has found that there’s a biological basis for a red nose among reindeer.

In the same way human noses become red in cold weather, so too could those of reindeer due to the “presence of a highly dense and rich nasal microcirculation,” the research published in British Medical Journal stated.

Looking at five healthy human volunteers, two adult reindeer and a patient with grade 3 nasal polyposis, the study found the “nasal microcirculation of reindeer is richly vascularised, with a vascular density 25% higher than that in humans.” They conducted their observations using hand-held vital video microscopy on all the subjects.

Science Backs Rudolphs Red Nose Finding Reindeer Have Dense Nasal Microcirculation Promoting Blood Flow to the Nose

Notice the slightly pink nose on this reindeer in Austria. (Photo: AP/Kerstin Joensson)

The red color that is exhibited in humans — and Rudolph as the research suggests — is due to an increase in blood flow to that area.

The nose of the reindeer, the study stated, is important for regulating the temperature of the animal’s brain. For this reason, Santa Clause was smart in picking Rudolph to guide his sleigh that night. Not only could he shine through the densely fogged sky, but he might have been well adapted for the extreme temperatures that come with flying at high altitude.

(H/T: Washington Post)