Sheep recognise familiar and unfamiliar human faces

Sheep are social animals that can recognise other sheep as well as familiar humans.

Little is known, however, about their holistic face-processing abilities.

We trained eight sheep to recognise the front-on-faces of four celebrities from photographs.

We then tested whether the sheep could recognise the four celebrity faces when presented in different perspectives – an ability only studied in humans.

Sheep successfully recognised the four celebrity faces from tilted images.

We furthermore asked whether sheep could recognise a very familiar handler from photographs, which they indeed can do without retraining.

These data show that sheep have face-recognition abilities, comparable to those of humans and non-human primates.

Source: The Royal Society 

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