Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/06/14/happy_sheep/
Sheep like happy, smiley people: official
More cutting-edge scientific research
Continuing our occassional series looking at how cutting-edge scientific research is changing our world for the better, we have unearthed the astounding fact that sheep prefer looking at happy people.
Yup, according to a Cambridge University research team, your ovines like nothing better than a big cheesy grin. Naturally, they find angry people rather unsettling, which is presumably why there were no sheep participating in last night's post-England-match rioting in Croydon and Birmingham.
We can thank neuroscientist Dr Keith Kendrick for this insight into the deeper workings of the woolly mind. His team has already determined that sheep can differentiate between 50 sheep individuals, so Kendrick "thought perhaps they could recognise emotions which are much more subtle".
And the result?: "It turns out they can, both human, smiling versus angry; and sheep, stressed versus calm," explains Kendrick.
The sheep guinea pigs were presented with two doors through which they could get their noses into the trough: one displaying a happy human or sheepish face and the other a rather aggressive bloke or a stressed out sheep. "They vastly preferred to press the smiling human or the animal that has just had a meal and is feeling all right with life," said Kendrick.
The Nobel prize jury should at this point note that this research may give insights into "autism, schizophrenia and a rare disorder called prosopagnosis which leaves the sufferer unable to recognise faces".
Which leaves us at Vulture Central concerned that we may be suffering from prosopagnosis, since we couldn't tell whether or not a sheep was angry just by staring it in the face - even if it were throwing pint glasses at riot police.
We suspect, however, that French sheep all look very, very happy this morning. ®