Goats shown happy and angry human faces prefer the happy ones, according to research published by a team of life scientists from Britain, Germany and Brazil.

The study, led by Alan McElligott at London's Queen Mary University, is among the first to provide evidence that goats can read human expressions. Dogs, horses and pandas can also distinguish between facial expressions, similar studies have shown.

Researchers tested 20 goats at Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats in Maidstone, Kent, using pairs of black-and-white photographs of the same person. The photos, pinned at one end of a gated arena about 1.3 metres apart, included one of a person smiling and another of the same person looking angry. Researchers found the happy pictures led to greater interaction from the goats that looked at the images, for instance, by examining them with their snouts.