Erroneous quadruped walking depictions in natural history museums

Gábor Horváth, Adelinda Csapó, Annamária Nyeste, Balázs Gerics, Gábor Csorba, György Kriska

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

6 Citations (Scopus)


Since the work of the photographer Eadweard Muybridge in the 1880s [1,2], experts know well how quadruped animals walk. All walking tetrapods advance their legs in the same sequence, and only the timing of supporting feet may differ [3-6]. Given the long time since Muybridge's work, one would assume that this knowledge should be reflected in the depictions of walking quadrupeds made by work of painters, taxidermists, anatomists and toy designers. The postures of legs of walking horses, however, are frequently erroneously illustrated in the fine arts [7]. To see if this also applies to museums, veterinary books and toy shops, we collected hundreds of walking depictions and tested whether or not they correctly display limb positions. We found that almost half of the depictions are wrong. This high error rate in walking illustrations in natural history museums and veterinary anatomy books is particularly unexpected in a time where high-speed cameras and the internet offer ideal possibilities to obtain reliable quantitative information about tetrapod walking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R61-R62
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 27 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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