Science

Sheep display facial recognition ability

Mother sheep with baby

Sheep are displaying unbelievable facial recognition ability in a new study from Cambridge University.

Sheep have specialised neurons which allow them to recognise faces, some of which they can retain memories of for years.

The new study placed the test subjects in a room and set up a series of experiments to ascertain whether sheep would be able to identify 2D representations of people.

Using celebrities (such as Barack Obama and Emmat Watson) and non-celebrities, a reward system was initiated to see if the subjects could be trained to repeatedly choose the celebrity image. The final outcome was somewhat surprising, as most scored an average 80% success rate.

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.

According to Reuters:

In addition to being shown images of the celebrities facing forward, scientists also tested the animals’ ability to recognize the faces in photographs taken from other angles.

The animals’ success rate fell by around 15 percent when presented with the faces at a new angle, an amount researchers said was comparable to that seen when humans perform the task.

Scientists aim to use the sheep as models to understand disorders of the brain, such as Huntington’s disease, that develop over a long time and affect cognitive abilities.”

To get a further insight into the project, Science magazine have assembled some footage:

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