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Bleating Heart: Goats Like It When You Smile At Them

Like all advanced and adorable creatures, goats are really good at reading emotions. A new study shows that goats can tell when humans are angry and when they’re happy, and that they prefer to hang out with the latter group.

Goats have long since puzzled humans. While they’re extremely adorable, hopping all over the place with their clicking heels, they’re also not suitable to be pets despite the fact that goats are well on their way to becoming the new dog.

The study conducted by the Royal Society in the United Kingdom gathered 20 goats that were “domesticated” or at least very comfortable around humans. These goats were later released into a pen that was decorated with images of happy and angry humans. Researchers monitored goats interactions with the images, timing how long they spent with each picture.

Via Royal Society Publishing:

Images were vertically attached to a wall on one side of a test arena, 1.3 m apart, and goats were released from the opposite side of the arena (distance of 4.0 m) and were free to explore and interact with the stimuli during the trials.

Scientists discovered that goats were capable of distinguishing different emotions from the same person, and that they preferred to hang out with happy faces. The study also noted that, like goats, dogs and horses are also adept at reading human emotions, which could play an important role in the bonding process between animals and people. “Human facial expressions may be highly informative for animals domesticated for working closely with people,” finds the study.

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