Watch this sheep spot a celebrity almost as well as a human can

Sheep never forget a face, especially if it belongs to a celebrity. In a new study, scientists trained eight female Welsh mountain sheep to recognize photos of four celebrities: actress Emma Watson, former U.S. President Barack Obama, actor Jake Gyllenhaal, and U.K. newsreader Fiona Bruce. After a few days of being rewarded for correctly choosing the stars’ images over those of unfamiliar people displayed on side-by-side computer screens, the animals could distinguish the celebrities with about 80% accuracy. Most significantly, the sheep could also pick out Watson and company if they saw pictures of them from a different perspective (with their faces tilted to the left or right, for example), this time with about 67% accuracy, the team reports today in Royal Society Open Science. That’s not much worse than humans, whose accuracy drops from about 90% to 76% in similar tests. The work shows that sheep have advanced face-recognition talents similar to those of humans and some other primates. The animals could be helpful in investigating neurodegenerative ailments such as Huntington and Parkinson’s diseases, which cause patients to have difficulty learning unfamiliar faces, the scientists say.