DEAR ABBY: With the holidays here, songs about Santa and his reindeer are filling the air. I'm writing to talk about reindeer antlers. Reindeer are unique because they are the only members of the deer family in which both genders have antlers, which are made of bone and grown annually.
In the summer and fall, you cannot identify a reindeer as a "he" or a "she" without further investigation. In late December, however, only the females still have their antlers.
During the summer months, the males use their antlers to attract females and defend their harem (anywhere from five to 15 females) from other males. When they are no longer "looking for love," the males lose their antlers. The females, on the other hand, keep theirs through the winter and into the spring, and use them to compete for food and to protect their young.
The only reindeer with antlers at Christmastime are the GIRLS, Abby. So Rudolph would have been appropriately named "Rudolphia," and the other reindeer would have been laughing and calling HER names until the glow from HER nose guided Santa's sleigh that foggy Christmas eve. -- JOYCE CAMPBELL, PH.D.
DEAR DR. CAMPBELL: Fascinating. This clearly explains why Santa doesn't get lost at Christmas. Females are never reluctant to ask for directions ... ho, ho, ho.