Three blows against angels: four good limbs, six limbs, I don’t think so

Angels seem to have six limbs: arms, legs and at. Whatever they are, they are probably not vertebrates, that is, animals like us with a spinal cord encased in a spinal column.

A superfluity of appendages

No living or fossil vertebrate has more than four limbs. Whales and snakes, among others, have abandoned some or all of the outer limbs, but no known vertebrates have added any. Even fish, which have all kinds of external structures for locomotion and / or stabilization, are built around a basic 4-limb structure. bauplan (body plan) of paired pectoral (shoulder) and pelvic (hip) fins.

It may be that four is the general optimal number of limbs, enough to do the job; not so much as to waste energy on the developing fetus or in practical use. It is probably a largely incidental consequence of having evolved from an ancestor built around the 4-limbed structure, which, in most vertebrates today, appears as four-legged. Some groups have modified the forelimbs into arms (primates) or wings (bats, birds), but no species has both … or they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

However, as all the images show, the angels appear to have perfectly competent arms, as well as feathered wings emerging from their shoulder girdles. It’s hard to imagine how a creature could have gotten there (angels) from here (the vertebrates 4-limbed body plan).

Those wings won’t work

Evolution is essentially a mantenance staffBy releasing new species, you settle for what’s already in your toolkit rather than designing from scratch. All major existing body plans date back to the Cambrian explosion of 530 million years (millions of years ago). Arthropods produce the majority of limbs, ranging from roughly 14-limbed insects (I bet you thought they only had six; several of their mouthparts are actually modified limbs) to many hundreds, even approaching 1000 in a very millipede. old, but not ‘hard’ for them to add limbs. They do this by multiplying body segments, each of which produces a pair of ‘limbs’: antennae, jaws, wings, legs.

However, vertebrates are not segmented like arthropods, and furthermore, angel wings violate the vertebrate body plan in a more significant way than just number: they apparently stick to the body of vertebrates. dorsal (back) of the shoulder girdle (pectoral). Take a look: all the arms, legs, wings and fins of vertebrates are attached to the ventral (belly) side of the pectoral and pelvic girdles. Where the powerful flight muscles would come together: how they would stabilize. A vertebrate flapping its wings like an angel’s would twist its spine in an unholy mess.

It is one gold the other

And a third thing! Representations show angels with feathered wings but long, silky hair. No living species forms both hair and feathers. Of course, Gabriel’s loose strands may not actually be hair, but the kind of long, soft, mostly spikeless feathers called filoplumes, is believed to play a sensory and / or decorative role in birds. The edge feathers can detect the position of the contour (body) feathers to keep them properly aligned, can play a role in providing body awareness in flight, can make birds more attractive to the opposite sex. If Raphael’s feathers were misinterpreted as braids, one wonders how angels use them.

Of course, hair and feathers are not characteristics that fossilize well, so it is possible that somewhere, waiting to be found (or maybe they have already found it and mistaken for a feathered dinosaur?) Vertebrate / angel last common ancestor. It would probably be better to spend the time looking for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Oh wait. That’s in a dusty US government warehouse, isn’t it? Or was it a church in Ethiopia?

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