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.