Neuroscientists Say Sheep Recognizes Celebrity Images Including Obama

Neuroscientists Say Sheep Recognizes Celebrity Images Including Obama

Sheep can be trained to recognise human faces from photographic portraits - and can even identify the picture of their handler without prior training.

Sheep learnt to recognise Barack Obama after being shown his photo a few dozen times, said a study on November 8 which suggested our four-legged friends may be smarter than we think.

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

The team got success after few days of tutelage of sheep at the Cambridge University in England, where at least 8 sheep could recognize Obama by his picture. Sheep now join other animals, including horses, dogs, rhesus macaques and mockingbirds, that are able to distinguish 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.

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The sheep in the experiment have to decide which face is going to reward it with food. The sheep chose the right face eight out of 10 times. However, the ability of sheep to identify faces was unclear. On her first try, one sheep appeared taken aback by the new face in the mix. Recognizing a person that is familiar from 3-D life requires "complex image processing", the authors say, because the sheep must translate their memory of the person to a 2-D picture. However, their ability to recognize human faces from photos alone is novel.

Scientists found that sheep have facial recognition abilities akin to those of humans or monkeys, according to Jenny Morton, the lead scientist in the study.

The animals' success rate fell by around 15 per cent when presented with the faces at a new angle, an amount researchers said was comparable to that seen when humans perform the task.

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

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