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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Zoology and Mythology – Looking at Angels, Fairies and Dragons

By Jack Ashby, on 25 November 2011

Last week was the Grant Museum’s 15th Annual Robert Edmond Grant Lecture, in which the superb Professor Roger Wotton explored the world of mythical creatures. He applied Grant’s own science of comparative anatomy to see whether things like angels, fairies and demons could actually fly, biologically speaking.

The science was solid, and – SPOILER ALERT – the answer was no. UCL Events blog reviewed the event in full, so you can read all about it there.

Roger’s original article on the topic can be found here in the Telegraph

2 Responses to “Zoology and Mythology – Looking at Angels, Fairies and Dragons”

  • 1
    Symbolseeker wrote on 26 November 2011:

    I read this article, most interesting. Although it is true that symbols depicting mythological and magical beasts do not follow the rules of science and anatomy. these symbols have an important function: they carry with them pieces of human history preserved in folklore, fairy tales, and mythology – oral traditions that depend on the memorable nature of the characters and stories to survive time. After decades of research, my colleague and I have been able to place these symbols in proper historic context and decode some of the origins of these fantastic creatures. http://www.whiteknightstudio.com

  • 2
    Angels, fairies and dragons revisited: Did putti fly like bumblebees? | UCL UCL Museums & Collections Blog wrote on 30 April 2014:

    […] In 2011 our 15th Annual Robert Grant Lecture was given by UCL’s Professor Roger Wotton. It was called Zoology and mythology: looking at angels, fairies and dragons¬†and explored the biological plausibility of these creatures based on their representations in art. Prof Wotton dissected (not literally, obviously) the anatomy that would be required for angels, fairies and dragons to fly. The lecture was amusing and illuminating – and we wrote about it at the time. […]

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