Study shows sheep can recognize celebrity faces

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

They did this by rewarding the sheep food when they went to the picture of one of celebrities, and not an unfamiliar face. And you thought you were so special, human. "Either the human face is similar enough to the sheep face that [it] activates the sheep face-processing system, or human-face recognition relies on more general-purpose recognition systems". Can you tell fish or bird faces apart? Sheep now join other animals, including horses, dogs, rhesus macaques and mockingbirds, that are able to distinguish between individuals of other species.

In a specially equipped pen, sheep were shown pictures of people on two computer screens, on one side would be an unknown person and on the other would be one of four celebrities.

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"We've shown that sheep have advanced face-recognition abilities, comparable with those of humans and monkeys", Professor Jenny Morton, who led the study, said in a statement.

Among the faces they were trained to recognize were former President Barack Obama and actress Emma Watson. First, the team familiarized the sheep with the celebrities' faces by showing the faces opposite a black screen or random objects. Their ability increased with training but dropped when the face was tilted.

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Scientists say the study could help advance research of Huntington's disease, which causes humans to lose their ability to recognize faces, Sky News reported.

Humans and monkeys can now extend a warm welcome to sheep for joining us in being able to recognize human faces from photographs. Maybe they just didn't like that the non-familiar lacked a reward, for example.

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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. The sheep were given food to create an association. Perhaps a test like this could help study these sheep's "cognitive decline".

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