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Reindeer see a weird and wonderful world of ultraviolet light

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Uploaded on May 26, 2011

Researchers have discovered that the ultraviolet (UV) light that causes the temporary but painful condition of snow blindness in humans is life-saving for reindeer in the arctic.

A BBSRC-funded team at UCL has published a paper today (26 May) in the Journal of Experimental Biology that shows that this remarkable visual ability is part of the reindeer's unique adaptation to the extreme arctic environment where they live. It allows them to take in live-saving information in conditions where normal mammalian vision would make them vulnerable to starvation, predators and territorial conflict. It also raises the question of how reindeer protect their eyes from being damaged by UV, which is thought to be harmful to human vision.

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