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Baa-rack! Sheep recognise Obama from photo

09 November 2017

Out of the all the shown photos, the sheep chose celebrities Jake Gyllenhaal, Barack Obama, Emma Watson, and United Kingdom television journalist Fiona Bruce.

"We chose the celebrities nearly randomly", Morton said, as long as there were lots photos to choose from. Then, during the trials, the sheep were released into a pen where they had to discern between the familiar faces and an object or an unfamiliar face.

The research's lead author Prof Jenny Morton said, "What we did is ask whether a sheep could learn to recognise someone from a photograph".

The sheep were able to pick out the celebrities and earn the food reward 8 out of 10 times. Whenever the sheep correctly chose the option, the testing got popped out with a treat. But there are at least eight sheep who can recognize the former president by his face. "Sheep successfully recognized the four celebrity faces from tilted images".

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The sheep's accuracy dipped to about 66 percent - "a magnitude similar to that seen when humans perform this task", the team reported in the journal Royal Society Open Science. During one set of trials, they were made to discern between their handler (whose photo they'd never seen before) and a new face.

After some initial confusion, the animals picked the handler's picture in 72 percent of cases.

According to the study, this ability has been shown before only in humans. "This current study adds an interesting new ability to the surprising wide repertoire of behaviour of sheep".

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

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Sheep join the small group of animals shown to recognize human faces, including monkeys, dogs and horses.

The new evidence suggests that sheep can process information about a human face without requiring a 3-D "real person", said Morton.

Morton said that future neurological research, using sheep as model organisms, could build from this study.

The researchers say this study of the ability of sheep to recognize faces may be useful in research into Huntington's disease and other human brain disorders that affect mental processing.

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Baa-rack! Sheep recognise Obama from photo