Sheep trained to recognize Jake Gyllenhaal, for science

Sheep 'can recognise famous people's faces', including Baa-rack Obama

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.

Sheep seemed to recognize the faces of Barack Obama, Emma Watson, and even Jake Gyllenhaal in a new study.

The researchers say this study of the ability of sheep to recognize faces may be useful in research into Huntington's disease and other human brain disorders that affect mental processing.

In a separate test, researchers wanted to see if the sheep would recognize human trainers they already know without any training like they underwent in the pen with the celebrity faces.

Morton and her team are now studying sheep that have been genetically modified to carry the gene mutation that causes Huntington's disease.

The sheep's accuracy dipped to about 66 percent - "a magnitude similar to that seen when humans perform this task", the team reported in the journal Royal Society Open Science. That's what scientists discovered through testing sheep by showing them celebrity portraits. Scientists now found that that ability can be applied to photos of famous faces, too, Sky News reported.

Researchers consider facial recognition as one of the most important human social skills. "Although I didn't think sheep could recognize emotion, it made me think about face recognition as a complex brain process".

In fact, they could even recognise people when pictures were altered or were taken from a different angle, an ability only previously recorded in humans and primates. However, the ability of sheep to identify faces was unclear. After training the sheep again showed two images - a person studied celebrities and the unknown person - and eight times out of ten they came to the celebrities with all the enthusiasm. By the end of this experiment, the sheep chose a familiar celebrity's face over a stranger's face about 79 percent of the time on average. Over time, they learn to associate a reward with the celebrity's photograph.

"We can't say for sure that the sheep understand that the pictures represent humans". "There is a transgenic sheep model of Huntington's disease, created in Australia by collaborators", she said.

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