Study: Sheep Solve Problems

A new UK study shows that sheep can solve problems and retain the solutions to some cognitive tests.

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Sheep are almost as smart as primates, according to a new study conducted by professor Jenny Morton and her colleagues at the University of Cambridge. While prior research determined that sheep can identify the faces of other sheep, the new report in PloS ONE shows that they also have the ability to learn and remember answers to puzzles. The tests involved scientists placing treats in colored, multi-shaped buckets in order to see if the sheep could retrieve the treat. The sheep could remember how to solve the problems up to 90 percent of the time during the six-week testing period and adapted to variations of the tests. The report concluded with a discussion of how this research can be used, stating, “Our study opens new possibilities for the study of complex emotional as well as cognitive behaviours, not only in the context of neurological disorders, but also in normal animals.”

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