Cave Paintings, Cartoons, & Neanderthals

Cave Paintings: Cartoons & Neaderthals

Using advanced techniques, scientists have determined that cave paintings in northern Spain are 40,800 years old, the oldest wall paintings in the world. The paintings may predate the arrival of Homo sapiens in Europe, meaning the ancient cave artists may have been Neanderthals, modern man’s older cousins.

If Neanderthals were early Michelangelos, French cavemen may have been Stone Age Walt Disneys. Marc Azéma of the University of Toulouse–Le Mirail  and artist Florent Rivère theorize that 30,000 years ago, cave artists took advantage of the strobe effect of flickering firelight by drawing series of slightly different images to create an illusion of movement, the first animations. The phenomenon of retinal persistence is what makes it work.


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Image (“New Discoveries at Lascaux”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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