Goats can read expressions and are drawn to happy people, a new study by scientists at the Queen Mary University of London reveals. The research team experimented on the goats with photos of the same person, one featuring an angry expression, and the other a smiling face. The goats in the study made a beeline for the happy face, the researchers report in the journal Open Science.
ALSO READ | NASA’s Spitzer completes 15 years in space; Know everything about it
"The study has important implications for how we interact with livestock and other species because the abilities of animals to perceive human emotions might be widespread and not just limited to pets" said Dr Alan McElligott who led the study.
The result implies that the ability of animals to perceive human facial cues is not limited to those with a long history of working as human companions, such as dogs and horses.
Instead, it seems, animals domesticated for food production, such as goats, can also decipher human facial cues.
"We already knew that goats are very attuned to human body language, but we did not know how they react to different human emotional expressions, such as anger and happiness. Here, we show for the first time that goats do not only distinguish between these expressions, but they also prefer to interact with happy ones." said first author Dr Christian Nawroth.
ALSO READ | NASA launching laser-armed satellite to study earth's melting ice
The study could also have implications for animal welfare, helping change perceptions of these livestock animals by highlighting their responsive nature.
(With inputs from agencies)