Holiday humor: Are we wrong about Santa’s reindeer?

The University of Chicago Press, in the spirit of holiday merriment, recently issued a press release about UAF Institute of Arctic Biology researcher Perry Barboza’s humorous yuletide “findings”:

“The results of recent research may change what the world has historically assumed about the airborne sleighpulling octet of quadrupeds escorting Santa Claus each year. A researcher from the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, has just released a report of findings on the home page of the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology (, to potentially earth-shaking effects.

Perry S. Barboza, a professor of biology with significant experience with the nutrition and physiological characteristics of ruminants such as reindeer, muskoxen, and caribou, analyzed various flight and endurance requirements of an individual member of Santa’s team. His research took into consideration the energy stores needed to complete a one-night international journey and the power-to-mass ratios of individuals of different flight-capable ruminant species, among other factors. In his report on the PBZ site, he concludes “what has been reported in sightings as ‘eight tiny reindeer’ are therefore likely to be young caribou.”

The study results are timely, released only days before Christmas. Barring statements to the contrary by Claus or a representative of the North Pole Workshop, Barboza’s findings represent a possible paradigm shift in the field of Yule Studies and a subsequent need for the revision of thousands of holiday songs and poems.”

Download a full copy of the paper and release.