Monthly Archives: March 2012

Research!

I started this as an unpretentious hobby, but then I had a free day, and I did some research. I found incredible blogs about pterosaurs. My favorite is The Pterosaur Heresies by David Peters. After reading some of its posts, I decided to study a bit more and make a better replica. So I started (finally) to make some plans. I drew a sketch of the spine up to the sacrum so I could use it as a starting point to make the other vertebrae (so I gave up the idea of making a papier marche pterosaur, and decided to go for the skeleton).

Then I tried to model some complex bones with foam. I found pictures of these bones at Dave Holne’s Archosaur Musings blog. The picture below shows a fossil image and my foam replica.

I found nothing more about Guidraco, so I started to use data from other similar pterosaurs, like Anhanguera. These are the pelvic bones and part of the head (I did some more cutting and molding on the head as well)

Finally, I discovered these sites: Pterosaur.net and John Conway’s Paleontography, which are an incredible resource on the anatomy of pterosaurs. There is a section on restoration from where I got much ot the information I used to make the rest of the body.

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A first attempt at the spine

I never studied a spine, and I never made any kind of model like this before. It’s quite difficult to discover what it looks like just looking at fossils. They are so different.

I had no idea how to start, so I made a sketch. A three-dimensional sketch. Anything that looks like a spine would work. So I got some foam, and made some cilinders, added some spikes and connected them together with some insulation rubber in between. Since I am going to cover it with skin and muscles, I thought, nobody is going to see it anyway.

This is the result.

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Making the head three-dimensional

I didn’t really know how to model the head, so I simply cut some pvc board in the shape of the head, glued it together and slowly molded it into something that at least looked like a head. If you squish the foam it doesn’t crack and you can make it curved. I glued the two sides together, cut some parts off, added other parts inside, and gradually made it three-dimensional.

The head, after a lot of squishing, cutting and gluing
The head, after a lot of squishing, cutting and gluing

It doesn’t look like a Guidraco, but perhaps some weird kind of Pelican.

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The idea

Reconstruction of Guidraco venator (Image by Maurilio Oliveira) Source: http://english.ivpp.cas.cn/rs/ma/201203/t20120323_82668.html
Reconstruction of Guidraco venator (Image by Maurilio Oliveira)

I had the idea when I read the news about a new pterosaur discovered in China. The Ghost Dragon: Guidraco venator.
I had no idea about how to start. I usually build maquetes with a frame, of foam or wood, and then cover with paper. I didn’t know how to start the pterosaur, so I googled and found some diagrams of its head and body

Head of Guidraco venator. Source: http://english.ivpp.cas.cn/rs/ma/201203/t20120323_82668.html
Head of Guidraco venator by WANG Xiaolin.

And decided to start with the head.

Attempt at making a Guidraco head from foam
Attempt at making a Guidraco head from foam

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The imaginary pterosaur

This blog is about a project I called The Imaginary Pterosaur: a foam sculpture of the skeleton of a pterosaur. It is inspired by some real pterossaurs such as Guidraco venator (the head), and others like Ornitocheirus, Ludodactylus and Anhanguera (most of the body and wings).

When I started I knew nothing about pterosaurs or foam modelling. Well, probably I do know a bit now, because of my research, but I learned it all from making this prehistoric bird, but I never touched a dinosaur bone. All the information I had were articles, drawings and photos published in the Internet, in sites and blogs about palaeontology and pterosaurs.

I would love to receive comments about this project. I know it is not precise. I didn’t find out how to make perfect replicas of the bones, how they connect, etc. So, if you know something about that, tell me. I made and re-made some bones several times, and some are still guesses. I can still fix a lot of it.

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