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Sheep Face Recognition

November 15, 2017

Sheep can recognize human faces.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Celebrity-spotting sheep.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Sheep may not follow the tabloids, but they can nonetheless recognize celebrities like Barack Obama and Emma Watson. This according to a study in Royal Society: Open Science. It’s all part of an effort to better understand how Huntington’s disease impairs facial recognition in humans, according to University of Cambridge neuroscientist Franziska Knolle. She says sheep can serve as a model for deciphering the disease. Her team taught the farm animals to recognize photographs of famous people.

FRANZISKA KNOLLE (University of Cambridge):

Within only four days they were able to identify the faces.

HIRSHON:

Then, the sheep were asked to ID different photos of the same people.

KNOLLE:

On 75% of the images they were correct which is highly above chance.

HIRSHON:

Knolle says the results suggest that sheep’s facial processing talents rival those of  monkeys, apes and even humans. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard