Could goats be a man's best friend?

Maybe.

A new study has found that goats want to see humans smile.

The Royal Society of Open Science found that goats can recognise human emotions in facial regonitition tests.

Advertisement

Moreover, it found goats prefer happy faces to sad ones.

Scientists studying 20 goats and their reactions to photos of humans. Some photos displayed happy faces while others showed angry or sad faces.

The goats spent more time looking at, and sniffing, the happy smiling photos.

Researchers believe that, because goats have been domesticated by humans for thousands of years, they could have heightened sensitivity to the range of human emotions.

"These results challenge the idea that such socio-cognitive adaptations are limited to companion or working animals, such as dogs and horses, and therefore it is possible that goats may also possess the ability to perceive more subtle communicative cues, such as human facial expressions that are linked to emotions," the study authors said.

"These findings suggest that the ability of animals to perceive human facial cues is not limited to those with a long history of domestication as companions, and therefore may be far more widespread than previously believed."