Study shows sheep can recognize celebrity faces

A sheep recognises Emma Watson's face- no trouble at all

Past research has shown that horses, dogs, and even mockingbirds can discern between individuals of other species.

Sheep can be trained to recognise human faces from photographic portraits - and can even identify the picture of their handler without prior training.

Morton said that future neurological research, using sheep as model organisms, could build from this study.

A recently published study finds that sheep can recognize human faces from photographs on computer screens. The Cambridge flock, eight female Welsh Mountain sheep, successfully learned the faces of four celebrities in a recent experiment: Obama, British newscaster Fiona Bruce and actors Emma Watson and Jake Gyllenhaal. Later, they were able to recognize the images for which they had been rewarded. The sheep were having two options in each step as a photo of celebrity face or another is of something else. But little is known about their overall ability to process faces.

Recognizing faces is one of the most important social skills for human beings, and some disorders of the brain, including Huntington's disease, affect this ability.

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That's probably a bit of an overstatement. In these initial tests, the sheep were shown the faces from the front, but to test how well they recognised the faces, the researchers next showed them the faces at an angle.

Obviously the study focused on only eight domestic sheep, and it does mention some potential alternative interpretations of the data. Over time, they learn to associate a reward with the celebrity's photograph.

To see if the sheep were just memorizing shapes, researchers did the same test, but with pictures in which the celebs' heads were tilted right or left. The paper points out that some neurodegenerative diseases can harm the ability to perceive faces, like Huntington's Disease.

Peirce said it was hard to say whether sheep associate photos of faces with people. Perhaps a test like this could help study these sheep's "cognitive decline".

Of the roughly 1.1 billion sheep on Earth, roughly 1.1 billion have no idea who Barack Obama is.

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