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科学美国人60秒:马能认出主人的照片

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Horses Recognize Pics of Their Keepers

马能认出主人的照片

We recognize our friends’ faces. And we’re not alone. Many social animals can identify individuals of their own species by their facial features. That’s important, because they need to be able to adjust their behavior depending on who they encounter. And research has shown that some species of monkeys, birds, and domesticated animals can even distinguish among different faces by looking at photographs alone.

我们能认出朋友的脸。我们并不孤单。许多群居动物都能通过面部特征来识别同类。这很重要,因为它们需要根据遇到的人来调整自己的行为。研究表明,一些种类的猴子、鸟类和家养动物甚至可以通过单独看照片来区分不同的面孔。

Scientists have also wondered whether domesticated animals that have co-existed with people for thousands of years can recognize different human faces. For example, we’ve shared more than 5.000 years of our history with horses. Plus, they can live up to 30 years, and may need to retain a great deal of information about us throughout their lifetimes.

科学家们还想知道,与人类共存了数千年的家养动物是否能够识别不同的人脸。例如,我们与马分享了5000多年的历史。另外,它们可以活到30岁,一生中可能需要保留大量关于我们的信息。

Ethologist Léa Lansade of the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment did an experiment to find out how well horses can recognize individual people in photographs.

法国国家农业、食品和环境研究所的动物行为学家Lea Lansade做了一项实验,以找出马在照片中识别人的能力有多强。

She and her team first taught the horses how to “choose” between two side-by-side images by touching their noses to a computer screen. The horses were then shown photos of their current keeper alongside faces of unfamiliar humans. They had never seen photos of any of the people before. The horses correctly identified their current keeper and ignored the stranger’s face about 75% of the time, significantly better than chance.

她和团队首先通过将马的鼻子触碰电脑屏幕,教它们如何在两张并排的图像中“选择”。然后,研究人员给这些马展示了它们现在的饲养员的照片,旁边是一些不熟悉的人的脸。他们以前从未见过这些人的照片。在75%的情况下,这些马正确地认出了它们现在的饲养员,并且忽略了陌生人的脸,这明显比碰运气要好得多。

What’s more, the horses also preferentially picked photos of their previous keeper—a person they hadn’t seen in six months. In fact, even though the horses didn’t get it right every single time, they were at least as accurate in picking out their previous keeper as they were at identifying their current one. The findings are in the journal Scientific Reports.

更重要的是,这些马还会优先选择它们之前的主人的照片——一个它们六个月没见过的人。事实上,尽管马并不是每次都能猜对,但它们至少能像识别当前的饲养员一样准确地识别出之前的饲养员。研究结果发表在《科学报告》杂志上

The results suggest that not only can horses differentiate between familiar and unfamiliar human faces, they intuitively understand that photographs are two-dimensional representations of real life, without any other cues such as odor or sound. And they’re even better at this than our oldest animal companion, the domestic dog.

结果表明,马不仅能区分熟悉的和不熟悉的人脸,它们还能直观地理解照片是真实生活的二维表征,没有任何其他线索,比如气味或声音。它们在这方面甚至比我们最古老的动物伙伴——家养的狗还要厉害。

In addition, horses seem to have a robust long-term memory for human faces, consistent with their long lifespan and history of domestication. In future experiments, the researchers would like to test whether looking at photos of people that they have had bad experiences with in the past might cause horses to act anxious or even avoidant. So maybe think twice before doing anything at a stable that might give a horse a long face.

此外,马似乎对人类的面孔有很强的长期记忆,这与它们的长寿命和驯化历史相一致。在未来的实验中,研究人员想要测试看过去有过不愉快经历的人的照片是否会导致马表现出焦虑甚至回避。所以,在马厩里做任何可能会让马拉长脸的事情之前,最好三思而后行。

Horses Recognize Pics of Their Keepers

We recognize our friends’ faces. And we’re not alone. Many social animals can identify individuals of their own species by their facial features. That’s important, because they need to be able to adjust their behavior depending on who they encounter. And research has shown that some species of monkeys, birds, and domesticated animals can even distinguish among different faces by looking at photographs alone.

Scientists have also wondered whether domesticated animals that have co-existed with people for thousands of years can recognize different human faces. For example, we’ve shared more than 5.000 years of our history with horses. Plus, they can live up to 30 years, and may need to retain a great deal of information about us throughout their lifetimes.

Ethologist Léa Lansade of the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment did an experiment to find out how well horses can recognize individual people in photographs.

She and her team first taught the horses how to “choose” between two side-by-side images by touching their noses to a computer screen. The horses were then shown photos of their current keeper alongside faces of unfamiliar humans. They had never seen photos of any of the people before. The horses correctly identified their current keeper and ignored the stranger’s face about 75% of the time, significantly better than chance.

What’s more, the horses also preferentially picked photos of their previous keeper—a person they hadn’t seen in six months. In fact, even though the horses didn’t get it right every single time, they were at least as accurate in picking out their previous keeper as they were at identifying their current one. The findings are in the journal Scientific Reports.

The results suggest that not only can horses differentiate between familiar and unfamiliar human faces, they intuitively understand that photographs are two-dimensional representations of real life, without any other cues such as odor or sound. And they’re even better at this than our oldest animal companion, the domestic dog.

In addition, horses seem to have a robust long-term memory for human faces, consistent with their long lifespan and history of domestication. In future experiments, the researchers would like to test whether looking at photos of people that they have had bad experiences with in the past might cause horses to act anxious or even avoidant. So maybe think twice before doing anything at a stable that might give a horse a long face.


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