The wide world of deer
Reindeer are the only species of deer in which both genders grow antlers. These antlers are extremely large and heavy, up to 51 inches in males and 20 inches in females. They are made of bone and covered with velvety skin that contains blood vessels to provide oxygen to the growing bone. Often used for sparring matches, these antlers can lead to death or conquest. If successful, the dominant buck will earn breeding rights. These antlers shed off once a year as the testosterone levels decrease, activating cells that split the antlers from the skull, and regrow even larger than before.
Many of us are familiar with the story of a certain red-nosed reindeer, and, although they cannot fly, some reindeer share this trait. Reindeer have 25% more capillaries in their nasal architecture, each carrying red, oxygen-filled blood. When the weather turns cold, blood flow to the nose will increase in order to keep them warm, creating that red color. This is necessary due to the reindeer’s inability to sweat. Their unique ability to warm cold air through special turbinate bones in the nasal cavity differs them from other species of deer.
Reindeer are incredibly social and often travel in herds that can hold up to 500,000 members in the spring. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there are currently almost 3.5 million caribou within North America!
A deer is any member of the Cervidae family which consists of about 90 different species of hoofed mammals. Many species within this category can be spotted around the Bay Area! Animals such as the Columbian Black-Tailed Deer, the Mule Deer, and the Fallow Deer (only in Point Reyes as they were introduced by humans) can be seen along hiking trails and even near civilization.
By Teen Docent, Madeleine Chen
Buisse, Alexandre. Strolling reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) in the Kebnekaise valley, Lappland, Sweden. Wikimedia Commons. 2007. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:20070818-0001-strolling_reindeer.jpg
Hustvedt. A mule deer in a field covered in snow, just west of Boulder, CO. Wikimedia Commons. 2008. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mule_Deer_in_snow.jpg