To better understand how well goats respond to human social cues, the scientific academy gathered 20 goats who were "habituated to human presence" from Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in the United Kingdom. Conclusively, the goats spent more time looking at, sniffing, or otherwise engaging with the happy images.
"The ability may be far more widespread than previously believed".
Scientists have found that goats can recognise when people are happy and when people are angry.
It is well known that human facial expressions are highly informative for dogs and horses.
The goats in the study made a beeline for the happy faces, the researchers report in the journal Open Science.
Bernard the goat being offered a smiling and angry face. Fifteen of the goats could not be trained to walk across their enclosure for the facial recognition tests.
The team showed goats pairs of photos of the same person, one of them featuring an angry expression, and the other a happy demeanour.More news: Intel launches Whiskey Lake-U and Amber Lake-Y
They reacted more excitedly to the former, approaching them and exploring them with their snouts.
Also, when the happy faces were placed on the goats right side rather than left side, the animals were drawn to them like bees to honey.
Goats can't see red so the pictures were in a format called "grey scale" that removes the colour.
Don't get bleat - we mean bleak - around a goat.
Instead, it seems, animals domesticated for food production, such as goats, can also decipher human facial cues.
The findings suggested "livestock species have very sophisticated minds to interpret their environment", said Nawroth, and "likely adapt their behaviour" based on human facial expressions.
"A$3 n initial selection for tameness and a thus reduced emotional reactivity might have been sufficient to enhance a general human-animal communication set of skills in domestic animals."