Nothing sheepish about these so-smart animals

SHEEP have a highly-developed ability to recognise the faces of celebrities, according to a new study.

Although it has long been known that they are able to recognise the faces of their human handlers, scientists have now demonstrated that farm animals can be trained to recognise images of famous people.

Professor Jenny Morton, lead scientist in the Cambridge University study, said the study showed that sheep have face-recognition abilities comparable with those of humans or monkeys.

Her team trained eight sheep to recognise the faces of four celebrities:  TV journalist Fiona Bruce, actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Emma Watson, along with former US President Barack Obama.

In the tests, each animal was shown two faces, one of which was the target celebrity. It was awarded a cereal pellet if it approached the correct image.

The sheep were then put in a pen and tested on whether they recognised the celebrities without the cereal rewards… and eight times out of 10 they obliged!

It was also discovered that the sheep distinguished photographs of their handlers – people with whom the animals spent two hours a day – ahead of those of the celebrities.

They chose the real-life, familiar faces over famous people, seven times out of ten.

The scientists also believe that the sheep’s facial-recognition abilities could be used to investigate Huntington’s disease, which can cause people to lose those very abilities.

The team has now begun studying sheep, genetically-modified to carry the mutation that causes the disease.

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Posted by on Nov 24 2017. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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