Goats like to be greeted with a smile

Scientists have found that domestic goats can read our facial expressions

Facial expressions are hugely important in human communication; a look can change the whole meaning or feel of a conversation.

It turns out we’re not the only ones picking up on the subtle changes in each other’s faces. Dogs and horses have been shown to recognise happy and angry expressions and perceive scowling people negatively, and now a new study has shown that goats prefer smiles too.

Domestic goats at a UK goat sanctuary were released into an arena containing a pair of photos of a person they had never met. In one photo the person looked angry while in the other they were smiling.

Left to explore and investigate, the goats approached the happy photos and interacted with them much more than they did with the angry faces. The scientists found that the goats spent even more time with the happy faces when they were the right-hand photo of the pair, suggesting that positive emotions are processed in the left hemisphere of a goat’s brain.

As more species join the list of animals able to read our facial expressions our understanding of animal intelligence is being challenged, and these discoveries could lead to changes in the way we interact with domestic animals.


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Image: Imágenes Gratis Online/flickr