Sheep Can Recognize Celebrity Faces in Photos

Face it: Sheep are just like us when it comes to recognizing people

Sheep are known for their sociability, but this showed - with some training - the sheep could not only recognize fellow sheep and humans they knew, but process images of faces.

To challenge the sheep even further, scientists showed them the same celebrities in photos captured from a different, tilted angle.

The sheep would nuzzle up close to their chosen screen, where they would trigger an infrared sensor releasing a treat, if they had chosen correctly.

Sheep learnt to recognise Barack Obama after being shown his photo a few dozen times, said a study on November 8 which suggested our four-legged friends may be smarter than we think. Seven out of 10 times, the animals would favor the familiar faces of their handlers over the celebrities.

In subsequent tests, the sheep chose the learnt celebrity face eight times out of every ten, said the research team.

"We focused on whether or not an animal was capable of processing a two-dimensional object as a person", Morton added. Later, they were able to recognize the images for which they had been rewarded.

Results said that the sheep were able to spot the right face on more than one occasions.

As with some other animals such as dogs and monkeys, sheep are social animals and can recognise other sheep as well as familiar humans.

"Our study gives us another way to monitor how these abilities change, particularly in sheep who carry the gene mutation that causes Huntington's disease", she pointed out. The research could even help with research into neurological diseases. However, the ability of sheep to identify faces was unclear.

"Sheep are long-lived and have brains that are similar in size and complexity to those of some monkeys". "My guess is that the ability of sheep to recognize human faces is a by-product of selection to discriminate between different sheep faces", he says.

"If this is the case, we can use the test to measure the beneficial effect of new treatments".

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