Sheep can recognize human faces from photographs

Sheep can recognize human faces from photographs

Sheep can recognize human faces from photographs

But there are at least eight sheep who can recognize the former president by his face.

Even when a celeb's face was slightly tilted rather than face-on, the sheep still picked the image more often than not.

Recognizing Obama meant the sheep won a snack. But it's been unclear whether the skill was real recognition or simple memorization. Past research has shown that horses, dogs, and even mockingbirds can discern between individuals of other species. And when shown pictures of their handlers without any training, the sheep did a double take then wandered over to their image.

In experiments in which the animals were rewarded with food for picking out portraits of Bruce, Watson and Barack Obama, sheep proved they were experts at identifying individuals. 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.

Sheep, on average, chose the celebrity faces correctly in 8 out of 10 trials.

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The research isn't just a silly test, though.

As expected, the sheep's performance dropped, but only by about 15 per cent - a figure comparable to that seen when humans perform the task. She did a double take of both faces before ultimately choosing her handler.

The woolly creatures could reliably pick out their human handlers without any previous photographic training at all, showing they can spot a familiar face. Recognizing a person that is familiar from 3-D life requires "complex image processing", the authors say, because the sheep must translate their memory of the person to a 2-D picture. Scientists now found that that ability can be applied to photos of famous faces, too, Sky News reported. And humans use faces for more than recognition, he wrote: "Our emotions, the open and instinctive emotions that Darwin wrote about, as well as the hidden or repressed ones that Freud wrote about, are displayed on our faces, along with our thoughts and intentions".

The BBC quoted researchers as stating that "sheep possess similar face recognition abilities to primates".

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