Sheep recognize faces of celebrities

Face it: Sheep are just like us when it comes to recognizing people

Sheep seemed to recognize the faces of Barack Obama, Emma Watson, and even Jake Gyllenhaal in a new study.

In subsequent tests, the sheep chose the learnt celebrity face eight times out of every ten, said the research team.

Neuroscientists from the University of Cambridge posted a report in the Royal Society Open Science journal on Tuesday asserting that sheep are capable of distinguishing faces of animals, humans, celebrities and even former President Barak Obama as well.


The woolly creatures could reliably pick out their human handlers without any previous photographic training at all, showing they can spot a familiar face. Sheep now join other animals, including horses, dogs, rhesus macaques and mockingbirds, that are able to distinguish between individuals of other species. "Sheep successfully recognized the four celebrity faces from tilted images".

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. Recently, scientists created genetically modified sheep that have Huntington's. My 2001 paper looked very carefully at this with a wider range of stimuli, more sheep and more conditions. "My guess is that the ability of sheep to recognize human faces is a by-product of selection to discriminate between different sheep faces", he says. The photo recognition experiment gives scientists a way to track changes in the cognitive abilities of sheep with a gene mutation that causes Huntington's disease, an incurable neurodegenerative disease. "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".

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