Reindeer Assemble in Hypnotic Cyclone Dance to Protect Against Humans

When you’re being hunted, hypnotize the hunter.

Reindeer are awesome. For starters, they have evolved to respect gender equality (they are the only deer species whose females also grow antlers), they walk a distance of 9,800 kilometers every year (that’s like walking from Batanes to Sulu 10 times in one year), and, when they think they are being hunted, they will form a hypnotic cyclone dance to confuse humans. 

The Reindeer Cyclone

In drone footage posted on Twitter by Science Girl, a herd of reindeer is seen walking in a circle. The video was originally posted on the Facebook page of Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, aka Kunstkamera (est. 1727). 

This particular herd is located in Russia’s Kola Peninsula, in the Arctic Circle. According to Science Girl, reindeers can run up to 80 kilometers per hour. “In the spring, they tend to form a superherd that consists of up to 500,000 such animals,” she wrote. 

According to Live Science, a threatened reindeer herd would literally run circles, making it nearly impossible to target a single animal. Hundreds of years ago, Vikings hunted reindeers. They crafted tools primarily to capture the large animals. 

But it is not only humans who trigger this mesmerizing cyclone dance. In the wild, reindeer fawns are often targeted by golden eagles. Golden eagles are the leading predators of reindeer fawns in the late spring and fall.

A Golden Eagle

Photo by Vladimir Kogan Michael.

A Female Reindeer and Its Fawn

Photo by Shutterstock.

The footage of the reindeer cyclone above may have been triggered by the noisy drone overhead, which the reindeers could have mistaken for an eagle that is about to take away their fawn. You will notice how the youngest members of the herd are at the center of the reindeer cyclone.

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