Cavemen Better at Drawing Animal Movement


Cavemen were better at drawing four-legged animals in motion in their art than modern artists, a study said Wednesday.

Most four-legged animals have a similar sequence in which they move each limb. These sequences were studied in the early 1880s by British photographer Eadweard Muybridge.

The authors of the study published in the open access journal PLoS ONE evaluated prehistoric and modern artwork from cave paintings of cows and elephants.

They also looked at statues and paintings of horses, elephants and other animals in motion to see how well artistic depictions reflected scientific observations of animal motion.

Gabor Horvath and colleagues from Eotvos University in Budapest found that animals drawn or painted walking or trotting often had their legs in the wrong place, scientifically speaking.

But prehistopric paintings had a much lower rate of error -- 46.2 percent -- compared to "modern pre-Muybridgean art" that showed animal motion incorrectly 83.5 percent of the time.

That error rate dropped off to 57.9 percent after 1887. It was not clear what improved man's portrayals of animal movement, the authors said.

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