1 Tahrcountry Musings: Reindeer has unusual ability to see UV light

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reindeer has unusual ability to see UV light

Dr Glen Jeffrey and his colleagues at University College London and the University of Tromsø in Norway have discovered that Reindeer has the unusual ability to perceive UV light. The Reindeer put it to very effective use to spot predators against snowy background. The researchers show that the cornea and lens in Arctic reindeer do not block all UV and that the retina responds electrophysiologically to these wavelengths. UV is normally highly damaging to the retina, resulting in photoreceptor degeneration. 
The primary winter food source of Reindeer, lichens, and the fur of its main predator, the wolf, absorbs UV light. This makes them stand out against the UV-reflecting snowy landscape.

Details of the research appear in the latest issue of Journal of Experimental Biology.

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