According to new research, reindeer are capable of seeing beyond the ‘visible’ spectrum into the UV range.
The researchers believe UV vision could enable the reindeer to distinguish food and predators in the “white-out” of the Arctic winter and the twilight of spring and autumn.
Lichen, on which the animal feeds, would appear black to reindeer eyes, they say, because it absorbs UV light. The animal’s traditional predator, wolves, would also appear darker against the snow, as their fur absorbs UV light.
Urine in the snow would also be more discernable in UV vision, which might alert reindeer to the scent of predators or other reindeer.
Neither did the animal appear to suffer any damage as a result of seeing in UV, say the researchers, or suffer the “snow blindness” humans can experience in the UV-rich Arctic environment.
Tests Show Arctic Reindeer ‘See in UV’ [BBCNews]