The hardworking, magical reindeer lugging Santa and his estimated 2,363,310-ton sleigh at warp speed around the world on Christmas Eve? Yea, it turns out they're all a team of badass females.
This interesting twist on the whole Santa story has actually been known to zoologists for quite some time. Like other random facts thrust into the mainstream dialogue, however, the all-gal reveal went viral because of a tweet.
MALE REINDEER LOSE THEIR ANTLERS IN WINTER AND FEMALES DON'T THEREFORE SANTA'S SLEIGH IS ACTUALLY PULLED BY A TEAM OF STRONG, POWERFUL, UNDERRATED WOMEN!!!!! YOU GO, GIRLS!! I SEE YOU!!!— Cat Reynolds (@catreynoldsnyc) December 11, 2017
Over 685,000 hearts later, Reynolds' tweet has shook up the long-standing belief held by generations that Rudolph and Co. were all male. As she mentioned, it boils down to science.
"Any reindeer right now with antlers is a girl," zoologist Andrew Hebda told HuffPo.
Female reindeer keep their antlers all winter. Males lose their racks in late fall after the mating season. (Photo: Andi Gentsch/Flickr)
Reindeer are the only species of deer where both sexes develop antlers. Males use their antlers to compete with other females, shedding their racks in late fall and early winter. Females, however, keep their antlers until summer, using them to forage through snow and protect their young from predators.
The only caveat to classifying Santa's sleigh team as female is the possibility that the reindeer may be composed of castrated males. The practice, common in places like Norway where it's literally done with one's teeth, renders males more docile and allows them to retain their antlers all winter. Drawings of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen and the gang, however, point to this likely not being the case.
“Based on all the illustrations of Santa’s reindeer that I’ve seen, they’re females because the males would be much larger,” Brookfield Zoo curator Glenn Granat told the National Post.
With Santa's reindeer being portrayed as male since at least 1821, maybe it's time to flip the script and let an all-female crew lead the charge?
"Sure, accepting female reindeers means acknowledging a lot of flaws in the Santa model," Reynolds wrote in a post for the New Statesman, "but there are flaws in the fact that reindeer have been portrayed as male figures for the past century and a half as well, depriving little girls of the representation they need: empowered female reindeer."
So Merry Christmas to all the rockin', hard-working female reindeer who deliver time and again for boys and girls around the world.