By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Alan McElligott, an animal behavior researcher at the University of Roehampton in the United Kingdom, and his team recently discovered that goats can distinguish between happy and angry human expressions.
The goats at the Buttercups Sanctuary in Kent, UK, were each presented two black-and-white images. One showed a smiling person and the other had an angry expression.
After a period of time where the goats interacted with each image, it was evident that they preferred the happy snapshot.
With the results, goats joined the ranks of dogs and horses as some of the species known to show similar responses to human facial expressions.
However, it is still unknown why animals can identify human expressions. Domestication is seen as a possibility that shaped the ability. The extent to which animals are capable of recognizing human emotion is also unclear.
But even there is more to be discovered, McElligott is hopeful that the discovery revolving around goats’ emotional intelligence will be enough to start improving welfare guidelines in farms or ranches who are raising them.