Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Give them a hand

Bats do not have hands. This is an important point if you were planning to pass one a pen, I suppose, but most people don’t give it a lot of thought. The wings of anjels are patterned loosely after bat wings, though, so I needed to decide just what capabilities they might have when it comes to picking up a pen or a spear. Bat wings are really hands modified by evolution. Count the bones in a bat’s wings and you can identify its ‘fingers.’ Four of those fingers are elongated and webbed into wings. The thumb still has some use as a stubby little digit.

I wanted my anjels to be capable of grasping, so I gave them two fingers and a thumb. They would still be terrible touch typists, because each digit is crowned by a claw or talon. They can do some things that people do with their hands and fingers. They can touch each other, comb each other’s hair with their fingers and grab hold of a bone.

In the book, I wanted to remind readers that though they are frequently referred to as women, these are not women in the sense that we know them. They have fingers, but their biology dictates that their arms are used most as the leading edge of wings, so they have no real hands.

Anjels do have feet. Flying creatures have little use for Jimmy Choos, so it seemed silly to pattern their feet after a human foot.  Here, I chose to pattern the anjel foot after birds of prey. I’m still deciding on whether or not to have three toes in front and one in back (most common in raptors) or two front and two back. I’m leaning toward the latter. 

Raptors have hooked beaks, which allow them to tear into prey. Most of our non-verbal communication comes from facial expression, so I gave myself a break and let anjels keep their human faces, relying on their finger talons to fill the job of beaks.

Next time, a little bit about personifying aliens and the use of familiar language.

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