Study shows sheep can recognize celebrity faces

Herbert Rhodes
November 9, 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.

"We've shown with our study that sheep have advanced face-recognition abilities, comparable with those of humans and monkeys", lead study author Jenny Morton said.

These woolly creatures grasped this recognition skill after going through three scenarios of training. The team is studying sheep with the genetic mutation that causes the disease. Past research has shown that horses, dogs, and even mockingbirds can discern between individuals of other species.

Initially, the sheep were trained to approach certain images by being given food rewards.

Scientists would show each sheep two faces, one of which was the target celebrity, Sky News reported. Seven out of 10 times, the animals would favor the familiar faces of their handlers over the celebrities. However, their ability to recognize human faces from photos alone is novel.

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.

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In a final test, the sheep had to choose between a picture of one of their handlers' faces and an unfamiliar face.

Brad Duchaine, a brain scientist at Dartmouth College, doesn't find the sheep's ability surprising.

The researchers found that sheep can recognize both familiar and unfamiliar human faces.

The sheep were able to pick out the celebrities and earn the food reward 8 out of 10 times.

In addition, they also say the study could help in the research into Huntington's disease, as well as other human brain disorders that affect mental processing.

The new evidence suggests that sheep can process information about a human face without requiring a 3-D "real person", said Morton.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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