Scientist Delivers Sheep Backhanded Compliment

“They’re actually very clever in a ‘sheepy’ kind of way. They’re not going to put a sheep on the moon, but sheep do remember faces, they recognize people and have long memories for complicated things. They’re quite curious creatures.”
Snarky Cambridge neurobiologist Jenny Morton throws water on any dreams of space travel that might have been harbored by the subjects of her recent study. Morton and her co-author Andrew King, of the University of London Royal Veterinary College, believe that sheep exhibit behavior consistent with evolutionary biologist W. D. Hamilton’s “selfish-herd theory”—that animals gather in groups out of self-interest, rather than concerns for the group as a whole. Sort-of a “greed-is-good” thing that you might expect from a gecko, but not from a creature so famous for blind devotion to group-think as a sheep. Bottom line: sheep are sheepy, self-centered jerks who are smarter than we think, but not exactly, like, astrophysicists.