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UCL Culture Blog


News and musings from the UCL Culture team


Angels, fairies and dragons revisited: Did putti fly like bumblebees?

By Jack Ashby, 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.

Now, on his blog, Roger has returned to the subject to investigate something he couldn’t fit into the lecture – putti. Putti are the porky little naked boys with tiny wings. Many people might (inaccurately) call them cherubs. In his whimsical yet biological account, Wotton says…

It is only possible to speculate on how putti fly, although their naked, often chubby bodies indicate that the generation of sufficient temperature is not a problem. (more…)

Specimen of the Week: Week Forty-Six

By Emma-Louise Nicholls, on 28 August 2012

Scary MonkeyI think it is super to be a pacifist, to cause no harm to the people around you. But this life-strategy may make you an easy target for people on the ‘meaner side of the coin’, and we don’t want that. So how do you ensure a little longevity without kicking your morals to the curb? May I advise deception. There is no need to be aggressive if other people are afraid of you anyway, right? The animal kingdom is full of mimics whose full repertoire of naughtiness extends only as far as pretending to be hard. Be it the sounds, colours, and/or smells of animals with much meaner personalities or hardcore weaponry. One such mimic caught my attention in the Museum. This week’s Specimen of the Week is… (more…)