Study shows sheep recognise human faces

Posted November 09, 2017

Neuroscientists from the University of Cambridge posted a report in the Royal Society Open Science journal on Tuesday asserting that sheep are capable of distinguishing faces of animals, humans, celebrities and even former President Barak Obama as well.

A new study shows that sheep have the ability to recognize human faces from photographs on computer screens.

Recognizing human faces is a skill you may take for granted-but you're also a human.

Obviously the study focused on only eight domestic sheep, and it does mention some potential alternative interpretations of the data.

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In a fifth, and final task, the sheep were shown a photograph of their day-to-day handler - who they know well but have never seen a picture of - next to that of an unknown person.

For the initial training, the sheep received a food reward for choosing the face versus a blank screen. The sheep were having two options in each step as a photo of celebrity face or another is of something else.

In fact, they could even recognise people when pictures were altered or were taken from a different angle, an ability only previously recorded in humans and primates.

The research isn't just a silly test, though. The scientists have been rewarded better for measuring the brain functions of sheep.

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Scientists aim to use the sheep as models to understand disorders of the brain, such as Huntington's disease, that develop over a long time and affect cognitive abilities.

The woolly creatures could reliably pick out their human handlers without any previous photographic training at all, showing they can spot a familiar face.

The Cambridge congregation included eight Welsh Mountain female sheep that learned successfully four different faces of celebrities, during the experiment.

Many other animals are known to recognise the faces among their own species, while some - including macaques, horses, dogs, mockingbirds, and sheep - can identify individuals from other species too.

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