Sheep recognize faces of celebrities

09 November, 2017, 01:41 | Author: Jacqueline Daniels
  • GETTYCambridge University researchers were astonished to find that sheep have face-recognition abilities

"We chose these people because there were lots of images of each person available on line, both front-on and taken at different angles", study co-author Jennifer Morton of the University of Cambridge told AFP.

According to the study, this ability has been shown before only in humans.

When they were tested if they could perform without the rewards, the sheep were able to recognize the celebrities faces eight out of 10 times, Sky News reported.

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The researchers say this study of the ability of sheep to recognize faces may be useful in research into Huntington's disease and other human brain disorders that affect mental processing. Researchers from Cambridge's Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience trained eight sheep to recognise the faces of four celebrities from photographic portraits displayed on computer screens.

Morton and her team are now studying sheep that have been genetically modified to carry the gene mutation that causes Huntington's disease.

"These data show that sheep have advanced face-recognition abilities, comparable with those of humans and non-human primates", claims the study, published today in Royal Society Open Science. However, the ability of sheep to identify faces was unclear.

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As with some other animals such as dogs and monkeys, sheep are social animals and can recognise other sheep as well as familiar humans. When a portrait of the handler was interspersed randomly, the sheep chose them seven out of 10 times. In follow-up experiments, the authors of the new study had the sheep once again chose between images of celebrities or strangers.

Sheep seemed to recognize the faces of Barack Obama, Emma Watson, and even Jake Gyllenhaal in a new study. "Sheep are long-lived and have brains that are similar in size and complexity to those of some monkeys".

Face recognition is a critical social skill in humans, and we are able to identify a known person within milliseconds of seeing them. Maybe they just didn't like that the non-familiar lacked a reward, for example. The research could even help with research into neurological diseases.

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