Inside a pterosaur’s head

Yesterday I worked on the details of Tupandactylus’s skull. I didn’t find any detailed information anywhere. It seems that there are only four Tupandactylus fossils, and they are all flattened out and incomplete. So I invented the inside of the skull borrowing from Anhanguera, Tapejara, and from my imagination (I have no idea what it should look like under the eye cavities). Well, this is the Imaginary Pterosaur project. As usual, in the future, if I have enough information I can always fix it (and if anybody reading this knows about Tupandactylus or about how I could improve this skull: specially the details inside the head, images, descriptions; I would appreciate any help.)

This is the skull after attaching both halves together and molding.


These are just two halves cut from a 5mm think XPS foam sheet, glued together at the edges, and molded out by folding (it won’t snap if you press before folding – see the previous post).



It is still too flat, of course. I pasted pieces of foam on the inside to help shape the head, and then added some “bone” inside the beak.


I also added a piece of foam just below the braincase to help keep the head rounded. It’s a sketch of the occipital bone. Later I will reshape it, add the cavities and the protuberance which attaches to the first cervical vertebra. For now, it is just a flat surface. I don’t know if these bones in the middle really exist (I urgently have to study vertebrate skull anatomy), but it’s working great so far to keep everything in place.


I worked a bit on the mandible. I still have to close it on the inside. I also discovered that it is too short and doesn’t really fit well with the upper beak, so I will have to do some reshaping later.


Here are some views of the upper skull. I used a lighter to change the texture of the foam with fire and to harden the surface a bit. It also makes it look more like a bone.

topside 2013-02-25 10.21.01 2013-02-25 10.20.50

I can’t connect the mandible yet, but we can already see what it would look like.



So this is the skull of the Tupandactylus imperator after two days of work. Not counting the time I spent on research nor the time I had to wait for the glue to dry, I spent, so far, 8 hours on this sculpture.


I will have much less time this week, but I believe it will be enough to finish this skull by Friday.


Below is some information about my research.

I first sketched the profile from this Tupandactylus diagram. Later I layered it with these two fossils: MCT 1622-R (on which it is based) and this other one. Other information I took from this Paleofile entry, this article by Campos & Kellner (2007), and this article by Pinheiro et al (2011).

I used this Tapejara diagram for inspiration about what the Tupandactylus should look like when seen from above, and this drawing for an idea of what it might look from the front. I also used this reconstruction of the skull of a Tapejara wellnhoferithis fossil reconstruction of a Tupandactylus imperator and this picture of a Tupandactylus replica from Museu Nacional do Rio De Janeiro.

Thanks to Hebert Bruno Campos for the links to several of the references above.

1 Comment

Filed under Pterosaur #3: Tupandactylus

One response to “Inside a pterosaur’s head

  1. Pingback: Pterosaur #3: Tupandactylus. Finished skull. | The Imaginary Pterosaur

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