Goats Genuinely Want To See You Smile

Maybe goats are the GOAT.

As if we needed another reason to love the humble goat, researchers have discovered not only can the average Billy tell whether you're smiling or frowning, but they actually prefer you to be happy.

The study, published in the Royal Society Open Science, set out to understand the social intelligence of goats and presents the first evidence that a livestock species can differentiate between happy and angry human faces.

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When 35 goats were simultaneously presented with two images of unfamiliar people with either a positive or negative facial expression, the animals preferred to first approach and interact with the happy face.

Authors of the study believe these results prove the ability to interpret human emotions may extend much further throughout the animal kingdom than previously thought.

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"Discriminating facial expressions linked to emotions in heterospecifics, such as humans, is assumed to be particularly challenging because emotions are not necessarily expressed in similar ways across species," the authors of the study wrote.

"These findings suggest that the ability of animals to perceive human facial cues is not limited to those with a long history of domestication as companions, and therefore may be far more widespread than previously believed."

Previous studies have proven both dogs and horses can read the facial expressions of people due to the fact the two species have been domesticated to work closely with us or to serve as companions.

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A recent study even proved it's best to mind your manners around horses, as they can not only differentiate between emotions but will remember if someone's been in a bit of a bad mood around them in the past. Researchers found man's second best friend will respond differently to a person based on whether they were smiling or angry in a photo previously shown of them.

As for animals domesticated primarily for production, including goats, less was known about their capability to perceive human emotional cues due to the fact they do not have a history of working closely with humans or serving as our companions on a large scale.

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Sheep had a brief look in earlier this year when researchers confirmed they can recognize not only other sheep and frequent handlers, but other unfamiliar humans after seeing only their photos. The farm animals managed to recognise photos of Barack Obama, Emma Watson and Jake Gyllenhaal.