According to a project which took place at the University of Sussex, research has shown that surprisingly we share similar expressions to those of horses. Like us they use their nostrils, lips and eyes to alter their facial expressions during various social situations when they feel the need to adapt their mannerisms. The findings suggest evolutionary comparisons between different species in how the face is used for communication.
The examination builds on previous research demonstrating the importance of cues from the face’s of horses in order for good communication. The study's co-lead author, doctoral researcher Jennifer Wathan stated that: "Horses are predominantly visual animals, with eyesight that's better than domestic cats and dogs, yet their use of facial expressions has been largely overlooked.
"What surprised us was the rich repertoire of complex facial movements in horses, and how many of them are similar to humans.
"Despite the differences in face structure between horses and humans, we were able to identify some similar expressions in relation to movements of the lips and eyes. What we'll now be looking at is how these expressions relate to emotional states."
The research was carried out by analysing video footage of a wide variety of naturally occurring horse behaviour in order to determine different horse expressions and additionally they carried out an anatomical investigation investigating the facial expressions which underpin these movements.
In a final evaluation the research leader Professor Karen McComb stated this: "Through the development of EquiFACS, however, it's apparent that horses, with their complex and fluid social systems, also have an extensive range of facial movements and share many of these with humans and other animals. This contributes to a growing body of evidence suggesting that social factors have had a significant influence on the evolution of facial expression."