Thursday, 6 August 2015

Why the long face? Horses and humans share facial expressions

August 5, 2015
University of Sussex
Horses and humans use similar facial expressions to communicate, according to new research.
Mammal communication researchers have shown that, like humans, horses use muscles underlying various facial features -- including their nostrils, lips and eyes -- to alter their facial expressions in a variety of social situations.
The findings, published in PLOS ONE today (05 August 2015), suggest evolutionary parallels in different species in how the face is used for communication.
The study builds on previous research showing that cues from the face are important for horses to communicate, by developing an objective coding system to identify different individual facial expressions on the basis of underlying muscle movement.
The Equine Facial Action Coding System (EquiFACS), as devised by the Sussex team in collaboration with researchers at the University of Portsmouth and Duquesne University, identified 17 "action units" (discrete facial movements) in horses. This compares with 27 in humans, 13 in chimps and 16 in dogs.

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