Originally Posted by metro
Researches claim horses can recognize individual neighs of other horses and match them to the animals' faces. After a trial involving 24 horses, scientists say they possess recognition skills previously thought unique to humans.
Originally Posted by telegraph.co.uk
The findings suggest that the animals are capable of complex skills related to recognition previously thought to be unique to humans.
Researchers studied a group of 24 horses with the animals shown one of two familiar members of their herd who was led past them and out of sight behind a barrier.
After a 10 second delay, the horses were played a recorded whinny either from the herd-mate they had seen, or from the other animal.
When the sound did not match the herd-member seen walking behind the barrier, the horses seemed startled. They responded more quickly and looked in the direction of the call for longer.
The research suggests that hearing the sound of a whinny conjures up visual memories of a horse's appearance.
Whinnies are made by both adult and young horses when they become separated from the group.
This kind of "cross-modal" recognition was once thought to be a purely human trait.
The scientists, led by Dr Karen McComb, from the University of Sussex in Brighton, wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: "Overall, horses responded quicker and looked for a longer time during trials in which the familiar call heard did not match the familiar horse previously seen, indicating that the incongruent combination violated their expectations.
"This is the first clear empirical demonstration that in the normal process of identifying social companions of its own species, a non-human animal is capable of cross-modal individual recognition."
Twelve of the horses were from the Woodingdean livery yard in Brighton, and 12 from the Sussex Horse Rescue Trust in Uckfield.
Similar methods are used to test observational skills and counting abilities of babies.
A baby who sees two toys placed behind a screen, but three toys when the screen is removed, will stare for longer because it does not meet its expectations.
Previous studies have demonstrated individual animals can discriminate between others with non-visual clues.
This is the first study to show however than an animal can identify an individual by its call.