Shear talent for spotting celebrities
The average sheep has long been judged a placid and dim-witted creature.
Now a study by Cambridge University suggests that we may have underestimated their intellectual capacities. Sheep can recognise human faces, spot the facial features of their handlers, and distinguish former US president Barack Obama from actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
In experiments in which the animals were rewarded with food for picking out portraits, sheep proved to be expert at identifying individuals.
"Anyone who has spent time working with sheep will know that they are intelligent, individual animals who are able to recognise their handlers," said Prof Jenny Morton, who led the study.
The ability to recognise faces is one of the most important human social skills. These abilities could be used to investigate Huntington's disease and other human brain disorders affecting mental processing.