Friday, December 19, 2008

Sexing the Reindeer

["News"] A veterinary professor at Texas A&M posits that all eight of Santa's reindeer are female (er, that is, she says they "were" female--does she know something we don't?) I scoff at this madness. Yes, scoff!

Now, depictions of antlers on tole paintings and Christmas cards don't seem to me sufficient basis on which to determine that an entire herd of deer somehow ended up being the same sex. That's no way to maintain a sustainable reindeer operation. (And don't even laughingly mention Rudolph--that ersatz, 20th-century commercial invention has no place in the true mythology.)

Going by names, Cupid is undoubtedly male, and Vixen is certainly female. QED, it's a mixed bunch. Here's my attempt at sexing the reindeer:
  • Dasher--male
  • Dancer--female
  • Prancer--male
  • Vixen--female
  • Comet--male
  • Cupid--male
  • Donner--male
  • Blitzen--female
I figure "Donner" and "Blitzen," from the German for "thunder" and "lightning," must be a breeding pair, and the plural "-en" ending is more feminine in that language, so there you go. Comet and Prancer could go either way--and, for that matter, they probably do.

(Brandon Burt)

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