Running cheetah with all feet in the air, Otjiwarongo, Namibia The subject of this photo harkens back to the time of Eadweard Muybridge, the inventor of cinematography. In the late 1800s a debate raged about whether all four feet of a trotting horse are ever off the ground at the same time, and Muybridge was commissioned to look for a novel way to solve the question. He was hired by the railroad baron Leland Stanford to photograph Occident, one of his champion trotters, in motion. His photographs of the horse in 1878 (recently on exhibition at the Tate Gallery in London) proved that there is an instant when a running horse does, indeed, have all feet off the ground. This occurs in the horse, as well as in the cheetah, when the front legs extend back and the back legs extend forward, generating maximum power. Muybridge's high speed mechanical shutters were the prelude to the modern camera, and his invention of the zoopraxiscope to show his still pictures in rapid sequence were the prelude to cinema. - allenfotowild