Sheep recognize familiar and unfamiliar human faces from two-dimensional images.
Royal Society open science
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Knolle, F., Goncalves, R. P., & Morton, A. (2017). Sheep recognize familiar and unfamiliar human faces from two-dimensional images.. Royal Society open science, 4 (11), 171228. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.171228
© 2017 The Authors. One of the most important human social skills is the ability to recognize faces. Humans recognize familiar faces easily, and can learn to identify unfamiliar faces from repeatedly presented images. Sheep are social animals that can recognize other sheep as well as familiar humans. Little is known, however, about their holistic face-processing abilities. In this study, we trained eight sheep (Ovis aries) to recognize the faces of four celebrities from photographic portraits displayed on computer screens. After training, the sheep chose the ‘learned-familiar’ faces rather than the unfamiliar faces significantly above chance. We then tested whether the sheep could recognize the four celebrity faces if they were presented in different perspectives. This ability has previously been shown only in humans. Sheep successfully recognized the four celebrity faces from tilted images. Interestingly, there was a drop in performance with the tilted images (from 79.22±7.5% to 66.5±4.1%) of a magnitude similar to that seen when humans perform this task. Finally, we asked whether sheep could recognize a very familiar handler from photographs. Sheep identified the handler in 71.8±2.3% of the trials without pretraining. Together these data show that sheep have advanced face-recognition abilities, comparable with those of humans and non-human primates.
CHDI Foundation, Inc (A-4050)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.171228
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/283160
Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/