Sheep Can Recognize Celebrity Faces in Photos

A sheep. Smarter than it looks

A sheep. Smarter than it looks. Wolfgang Kaehler LightRocket via Getty Images

Given a choice, the sheep picked the familiar celebrity's face over an unfamiliar face the majority of the time, the researchers report November 8 in Royal Society Open Science.

They did this by rewarding the sheep food when they went to the picture of one of celebrities, and not an unfamiliar face.

This convinced the researchers that sheep had face-recognition abilities similar to ours.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge trained eight sheep to recognize the faces of four celebrities from photos shown on a computer screen.

The sheep even recognized Emma Watson at a different angle.

It's always been known a flock can become familiar with the visages of their human handlers.

Over a series of four training sessions, the sheep's ability to choose a familiar face, represented by one of the four celebrities, over a completely unfamiliar face improved. First, the team familiarized the sheep with the celebrities' faces by showing the faces opposite a black screen or random objects. Recently, scientists created genetically modified sheep that have Huntington's.

When they were tested if they could perform without the rewards, the sheep were able to recognize the celebrities faces eight out of 10 times, Sky News reported.

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

Next, the sheep were taken into the barn and shown two photos.

To challenge the sheep even further, scientists showed them the same celebrities in photos captured from a different, tilted angle. My 2001 paper looked very carefully at this with a wider range of stimuli, more sheep and more conditions.

Recognizing human faces is a skill you may take for granted-but you're also a human.

According to the study, this ability has been shown before only in humans.

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