'The impotent wing did not lift the animal into that black space,' plate 7 from Les Origines, 1883.
Although Redon may have based this imaginary creature on a Pegasus-like winged horse from Greek mythology, it is likely that he was also inspired by Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, notably the chapter examining 'Laws of Variation' and the 'Effects of Use and Disuse.' Darwin showed that animals gradually adapted to suit their natural environment and manner of life, producing anomalies such as flightless birds like the ostrich and sightless mammals (e.g. moles). 'I am only surprised that more wrecks of ancient life have not been preserved,' he concluded, 'owing to the less severe competition to which the inhabitants of these dark abodes will probably have been exposed.'