Sheep can recognize people's faces from photographs

For the study, researchers trained the sheep to recognize faces of Emma Watson, Barack Obama, Fiona Bruce and Jake Gyllenhaal.

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.

Researchers trained eight sheep to identify celebrity faces from photographs.

If you ever find yourself in the company of sheep, don't be surprised if they seem to recognize you. Then, the researchers showed the sheep two different face photos and gave it a food reward for choosing the correct face it had learned before.

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Sheep have been known to pick out pictures of individuals in their flock, and even familiar handlers (SN: 10/6/12, p. 20). However, the ability of sheep to identify faces was unclear. "Sheep successfully recognized the four celebrity faces from tilted images".

The research isn't just a silly test, though. The sheep didn't do as well but still passed, recognizing the celebrities about 68 percent of the time - a drop in performance comparable to that seen in humans performing the same task. She did a double take of both faces before ultimately choosing her handler. My 2001 paper looked very carefully at this with a wider range of stimuli, more sheep and more conditions. Scientists now found that that ability can be applied to photos of famous faces, too, Sky News reported. "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".

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

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

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