A UK academic has some very bad news for those who believe they'll one day be fluttering through the pearly gates, because unless they're carrying some form of heavenly jet pack, their appointment with Saint Peter is definitely cancelled.
The reason? Angels can't actually fly, according to University College London's Roger Wotton. The good Professor of Biology examined pictures of angels and cherubs, and arrived at the shock conclusion that they structurally aren't up to the job.
He explained: “Even a cursory examination of the evidence in representational arts shows that angels and cherubs cannot take off and cannot use powered flight. And even if they used gliding flight, they would need to be exposed to very high wind velocities at take off - such high winds that they would be blown away and have no need for wings."
Of course, angelic beings lack the skeletal and muscular adaptations which allow birds to take to the air. Fairies and their insect wings are also on a beat to nowhere, as Wotton insisted: “The distortion of the thorax needed for flight in fairies with butterfly wings would be exceedingly uncomfortable. For sure, fairies don’t fly.”
Wotton's paper,Angels, Putti, Dragons and Fairies: Believing the Impossible,publishedin UCL'sOpticonmagazine, examines just why angels need soaring abilities in the first place.
He notes: “Angels are very powerful religious icons for people with faith. Their similarity to humans adds to their power. At the same time, they have wings on them because they are more than human. They take messages to heaven and therefore have to fly."
Professor Wotton's other current research includes "the transport and fate of faecal matter in streams and rivers", according to his UCLbiog.