Santa's Reindeer Are Shrinking

By Arden Dier, Newser Staff

December 12, 2016

NewserSanta might need to recruit a few extra reindeer this year. According to Scottish scientists, Arctic reindeer are shrinking in size. Scientists weighed 135 reindeer on Norway's Svalbard archipelago, about 800 miles from the North Pole, each April from 1994 to 2015 and found the animals shrank from 121 pounds on average to 106 pounds over the study period—a 12% decrease in body mass, reports Science

The researchers blame warmer temperatures: Reindeer typically use their antlers to find plants buried in snow, which covers the ground in Svalbard for about eight months of the year. But rain has been falling more often in winter, creating a blanket of ice that reindeer can't penetrate, ecologist Steve Albon tells Reuters.

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Photo: Getty Images

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