According to Rossella Lorenzi of Discovery, stone age artists understood the concept of animations. When their drawings -- which look like incomplete parts and pieces of a subject intertwined together -- are looked at with the flickering light of fire, the drawings come to life suggesting movement.
"Prehistoric man foreshadowed one of the fundamental characteristics of visual perception, retinal persistence," Azéma and Rivère wrote.
Azéma, who spent 20 years researching Stone Age animation techniques, isolated 53 figures in 12 French caves that superimpose two or more images to represent trot or gallop, head tossing, and tail shaking.
"Lascaux is the cave with the greatest number of cases of split-action movement by superimposition of successive images. Some 20 animals, principally horses, have the head, legs or tail multiplied," Azéma said.
When the paintings are viewed by flickering torchlight, the animated effect "achieves its full impact," said Azéma.
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