London, Nov 3 (ANI): Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, famous in Christmas folk tales, is actually female, scientists have said.
Because female reindeer still have antlers at Christmas and males shed theirs before mid-December, Rudolph by any chance cannot be a male, according to Edinburgh University professors Gerald Lincoln and David Baird.
"Rudolph classically is this red-nosed reindeer who is around at Christmas," the Telegraphg quoted Lincoln as saying.
"We picture him in the snow with his antlers, but if you know anything about nature you discover that things are not quite so straightforward.
"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, but once it finishes they cast them.
"So you can't picture Rudolph as a big red-nosed macho male because he has cast his antlers already and can't arrive on your doorstep with his antlers on, looking handsome.
"I just wanted to remind people that it is never quite so straightforward and even females develop weapons when it comes to the real world of seasonal breeding," he added.
Of the forty different species of deer in the world, only in reindeer do females have antlers.
Females cast 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.
Lincoln made the above discovery while looking into how female reindeer grow and cast their antlers each year.
He suggested if Rudolph was not a female then he may have been a eunuch, because on being castrated, a male reindeer stops the process of casting the antlers in the wintertime, 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!" he said.
The findings will be presented during a talk at the Queen's Medical Research Institute of Edinburgh University on December 9. (ANI)