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back to article Sheep as smart as humans: Official

A Cambridge Uni prof has provocatively suggested that sheep aren't actually as thick as a Fair Isle woollen sweater, and can match humans in the tricky task of identifying food amid a confusion of buckets. Neuroboffin Jenny Morton herded a flock of Welsh mountain sheep and presented them with variously-coloured buckets, only one …

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Badgers

May I be the first to say:

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Anyone seen Flossie?

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"They've hit on the idea of escape"

Monty Python has known this for 40 years.

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It must have been Harold

"He's that most dangerous of animals, a clever sheep."

www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TeiSsJ3G_0

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Can you also please ask

What is the speed of a sheep in a vacuum?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/24/vulture_central_standards/

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Joke

It's not what it looks like officer.

Flossie invited me in for a coffee, and well one thing led to another.

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FAIL

Reg headline in 'draws it's own conclusions' shocker...

Just because they score equally well as humans on one particular test, no-one (except the vulture) is suggesting this makes them 'as smart as humans'...

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Unhappy

In other news...

...humans proved to be as stupid as sheep...

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Nope...

That's insulting to the sheep!

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Welcome

May I be the first...

...to welcome our intellectual ovian overlords.

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Joke

Whoah

Sheep can find the bucket with food in? No way. And they can respond to their name? Far out man.

Sheep is smart! Who'da thunk it?

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Coat

Recognition

"they seem to be able to recognise people and even respond when you call their name."

Perhaps that's why shepherds have named their sheep and have been followed by their flocks since the dawn of time (well, at least 2,500 years ago, give or take). Of course, it could be due to "knowing" them "personally" too, as Sabine seems to imply... :P

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Joke

Must be true

Sheep don't use Facebook - QED

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I beg to differ

I thought Facebook was populated by nothing *BUT* sheep.

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count...

meeee in...

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Badgers

Speaking as an actual shepherd

Yes, some of us have laptops. And I think that it depends on the breed of sheep in question. Some sheep are as thick as two short planks. Others show surprising cunning. The closer they are to wild type, frequently the more clever they are. Shetlands, Soay and so on are positively bright, whereas in my experience some of the more overbred varieties like some merino are very dull.

Of course, one factor in their apparent intelligence might be the strength of their flocking instinct, which varies markedly between breeds too. You can't easily use dogs trained on tight flock sheep, on a breed which will scatter when pressed.

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Badgers

More wild->smarter. More domesticated->More dumb.

Well, that sounds reasonably plausible. After all, the smarter they are, the less likely they are to hang around with humans who want to eat/shear/skin/molest them.

It would also offer a temptingly comprehensive explanation for reality TV, FarceTwatTube, the obesity epidemic, "'elf'n'safety gorn maaaad"* and all the rest of the wall-to-wall stupidity explosion.

The Powers That Be are working for Lord Crumb, and the human race is being domesticated in preparation for a major galaxy-wide expansion of Crumb’s Crunchy Delights.

* (c) 1993, Daily Heil Newspaper

Badgers - because you wouldn't catch them queuing up to be eaten

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The more overbred varieties

The Hooray Henries of the sheep world.

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Badgers

probably also fair to say that Sheep intelligence...

is pretty tightly focussed on food. When it comes to things like staying alive they are less able...

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Happy

We love to make fun of sheep's "follow the flock" mentality

While ignoring the fact that we are the ones that spent thousands of years selectively breeding them for exactly that behaviour.

...

As a girl, my mum had a pet sheep that was raised with the farm dogs. It thought it was a dog and behaved just like a working-dog. Came when called, and tried to round up the flock. The other sheep were not so convinced of its doggedness.

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About the same

Sounds just like people I've met over the years; flockers, plankers and the occasional bright spark.

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Unhappy

Are sheep really as smart as humans...

...or are some humans as dumb as sheep?

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Coat

@May I be the first to say:

Or even. What a load of baaaallocks

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Anonymous Coward

sheeps is just folks

"...they seem to be able to recognise people and even respond when you call their name"...

Yes I named my favorite sheep Pretty Polly.

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Stop

For control purposes

Which human had you planned to sit in front of a Sudoko and suggest that if it solves the puzzle in less than 20 minutes it won't end up the oven?

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Anonymous Coward

Gordon RAM-sey

If they're so smart, why aren't the angry Scottish ones cooking up a leg of man on a Sunday whilst shouting profanities at the lambs who've been tasked with pulling up and preparing some carrots?

It all smells fishy to me.

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I look forward

to working with our new wooly masters

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first deep blue...

now "deep sheep"... ?

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'Sheep Blue'

perhaps?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sheeper Blue

'Sheep Blue' sounds OK. 'Deep Sheep' sounds.... wrong. And I didn't make any Celtic references, so no one have a pop at me for that!

Actually, I've already seen 'Sheep Blue' on the heads of elderly ladies, though they're not as common as they used to be.

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Coat

There's a very interesting documentary...

... showing extremely intelligent sheep who can drive tractors, build mechanical devices, perform group calisthenics and much more besides.

It can be seen on CBBC channel or there's more information here http://www.shaunthesheep.com/

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Pint

Must...get...eyes...fixed

"Neuroboffin Jenny Morton herded a flock of Welsh mountain sheep..."

First read this as, "Neuroboffin Jenny Mutton..."

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Wow Man

Snorting a lungful of medical grade cocaine and basing your research after watching a couple episodes of "shaun the sheep'. Excellant!

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Joke

How will you be taking your sheep sir?

With or without wellies?

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Go

Intelligent Beings

It is my opinion that the more research we carry out the more we will begin to realise that any animal capable of higher thought can be educated to be "intelligent". Reprogramming the brain to respond a certain way is purely a matter of using the correct training method.

Personally I suspect where we are leading in a few more decades/centuries is for humans to be communicating with some animals directly.

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FAIL

Oh dear

"and even respond when you call their name", That professor is dumber than a sheep.

And people who pay him for his "research" are even more dumb.

Cats, dogs, horses, cows, pigs even parrots respond.

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Responding animals

I shouted a warning at a spider today and it responded by running away from me.

Smart Spider!

I suggest the professor should research this Araneae cognitive phenomenona.

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sheeple power

sheeple power, long live the sheeple.

but one for the Americans here , didn't the recent Nova Sciencenow S05E04 prove EU bred border collie dogs where smarter! remembering 1000 teddy's by name and retrieving them for astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson

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A thousand bears

Hmm. My teddies do not have bynames.

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smart collie

Collies in general are pretty smart, but I think that was one particular savant-dog that could remember 1000 names. I think they said most dogs could only remember about 7 names.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: smart collie

Border collies are the most intelligent dogs full stop, apparently. There's one that can identify objects from pictures of them.

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Boffin

Title

@RobE who says that's not possible already, not to say has been for centuires? Not in the Doolittle sense. Language is a different thing from communication.

For any human to work effectively with an animal (working dogs, horses etc) the two have got to be able to communicate pretty effectively. Sure, it's possible to - say - beat a horse into submission; but the truly good riders can tell you exactly what their horses are thinking, and work with them in partnership rather than dominance. Man has been doing this kind of thing since the first days of domestication.

And it's not just one way; dogs are remarkably - perhaps uniquely - adept at reading emotion in human faces. Remember how much of our communication is non-verbal. Google 'left-gaze bias in dogs' for more.

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Anonymous Coward

Clever Hans

Many people were convinced that a particular horse named Hans could count, until someone had the idea of masking the questioner's face from the horse's view.

Google "Clever Hans effect" for details.

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Re: Intelligent Beings

RobE, to learn about one result of such research, have a listen to Act Two of the MP3 available at http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/401/parent-trap .

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Anonymous Coward

Shocked...

I'm shocked and disappointed...

Not a single person has drawn a comparison between sheep and iPhone owners...

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This is science?

I don't know what form of hand rolled cigarettes these guys are smoking but the test is more to do with their fascination for Welsh Sheep (honestly guv, they wanted me to...) than to demonstrate the mental capacity of our ovine friends. If these sheep are so clever why do they stand around in the hope they will be spared while they watch their mates being dismembered by a butcher!?

These good folk need to get out more and stop playing with buckets and sheep.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: This is science?

Sheep more agreeable, less smelly than Reg commentards: Official

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Jobs Horns

Go Sarah Go - Your my hero.....

Sarah Bee.

Sheep more agreeable, less smelly than Reg commentards: Official

She says muching on a wasp....

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@Can you also please ask

"What is the speed of a sheep in a vacuum?"

It doesn't matter, the results will be invalid because a sheep is not spherical.

Boom boom.

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Don't insult sheep

Just looking around, sheep are far smarter than many people (eg. iDiot).

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