The big story this week has not been about Trump visiting China or even Lewis Hamilton avoiding paying the VAT on his private jet. No, the biggest yarn is that researchers at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom have discovered that sheep can recognise individual human faces. Wow! What a high class piece of research that is.
Never mind that we still haven’t found a cure for cancer, never mind that we still haven’t found a proper clean energy source. It’s good to know that public money is still being spent on research programmes that increase the pool of human knowledge. And that will be public money from the poor section of society because as we all know when you are very rich you do not need to pay any taxes.
Researchers stated that it was a particularly erroneous project, as by the time they were testing the tenth sheep they had fallen fast asleep, the humans not the sheep.
It has been well known for years that some animals can recognise people they have had a past encounter with. There are many stories of elephants who never forget. We know that cats and dogs recognise the person who will give them food as opposed to the person who will give them a kick. Dolphins are very clever. They can learn tricks and speak to each other, but who knew that sheep were so intelligent. From time immemorial we have had the saying “follow like sheep” which generally means not having the ability to think for oneself and always needing to follow a leader. I decided to research this and even this turns out to be untrue. When attacked by dogs or wolves each individual sheep is not just running with the pack they are trying to get to the centre of the pack on the basis that only those on the outside will be eaten. However, with every member of the pack trying to get to the inside while all are running away, it gives us this impression that they are all acting as a whole. So, clever and individual, this has turned my whole perception of sheep upside down.
Back to the face recognition. The sheep were tested by being shown a number of famous faces. They developed likeness for some faces over others. Some of the famous people they particularly liked was Eeeemmmma Watson, Meeeeeredith Brooks and Baaaaaaary White. But the favourite with twice as many sheep votes as the rest was Baaaaahrak Obaaaaahma. It’s just a pity he cannot run for president again because his approval rating with sheep is massive. They hate Donald Trump because they think he is wearing one of them on his head.
Now that it has been established that sheep can recognise individuals and remember any good or bad things that happened to them, there are a lot of nervous farmers out there who are very glad that they cannot speak as well.