Scientists: Sheep recognize faces as people

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Seven out of 10 times, the animals would favor the familiar faces of their handlers over the celebrities.

EWE AGAIN Sheep were trained to recognize celebrity faces, demonstrating that the animals can recognize a familiar human face from a 2-D image.

Sheep have been trained to recognize the faces of celebrities, including former U.S. President Barack Obama, by University of Cambridge scientists who hope it may help with understanding neurodegenerative diseases.

If you ever find yourself in the company of sheep, don't be surprised if they seem to recognize you.

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"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. Past research has shown that horses, dogs, and even mockingbirds can discern between individuals of other species. 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. Recently, scientists created genetically modified sheep that have Huntington's.

The animal would receive a reward of food for choosing the photograph of the celebrity by breaking an infrared beam near the screen displaying it.

To see if the sheep were just memorizing shapes, researchers did the same test, but with pictures in which the celebs' heads were tilted right or left. On her first try, one sheep appeared taken aback by the new face in the mix.

The sheep still recognized the celebrity portraits, even if posing at an angle, with only a 15 percent drop in accuracy. "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. Scientists now found that that ability can be applied to photos of famous faces, too, Sky News reported.

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