Pterosaur #3: Tupandactylus imperator (finished skull)


That’s a Tupandactylus skull mounted on my balcony with São Paulo in the background on a sunny Sunday morning. To learn how I made it, check the links at the end of this article (or read the posts under the category Pterosaur #3: Tupandactylus in reverse order).

To make it I used the following material:

  1. One 1.0 x 1.2 m sheet of XPS foam board, 5mm thick (I used ~ 50% of it)
  2. 100g PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue (adhesive for foam)
  3. 200 ml of modeling paste (acrylic resin)
  4. Less than 2g of epoxi resin (for reinforcing the jaw articulation)
  5. Cotton gauze
  6. Several stains (coffee, ashes, yellow and brown gouache paint)

These are its dimensions:

  • Length of the skull from the rear crest to the beak: 108 cm.
  • Length of the skull from the top crest to the beak: 123 cm.
  • Maximum width of the skull (near the jaw articulation): 11 cm.
  • Height of the skull from the top crest to the jaw articulation: 100 cm.
  • Length of the mandible: 49 cm.
  • Maximum width of the mandible: 10 cm.
  • Maximum height of the mandible: 13 cm.
  • Weight: 500 grams.

I’m declaring the skull finished but there are many things that can still be improved and corrected. I did not find reliable or sufficient information about the palate nor the structural bones beneath the skull, so they may be incorrect. I can always fix that in the future when I have better pictures, access to fossils or reliable models. I also have to study some pterosaur anatomy!

Here is another view of the skull on the floor by the books.


And on the table (near my falsification of Delacroix’s Jeune Orpheline au Cimetière):


Below are some photographs at different angles, close-ups and details.

The mandible



Front and top views



Top and back views


This is the rear crest showing the temporal apertures at the back of the skull.



Bottom and back views





Close-up of the skull



With the mandible detached



With the mandible attached





Now I need to make the body, but it will be speculative since only fossils of skulls have been documented for this pterosaur; nothing else. I should use Tapejara wellnhoferi as a starting point, but I still haven’t found any good diagrams or drawings of the vertebrae online.


I have already mentioned the sources I used for this model in a previous post, but I am listing them below for convenience.

  1. Tupandactylus fossil: holotype 1 (MCT 1622-R)
  2. Tupandactylus diagram, by David Peters, based on MCT 1622-R
  3. Tupandactylus fossil: holotype 2
  4. Paleofile entry on Tupandactylus
  5. Article: Campos & Kellner, 2007: Short note on the ingroup relationships of the Tapejaridae (Pterosauria, Pterodacyloidea)
  6. Article: Pinheiro et al, 2011: New information on the pterosaur Tupandactylus imperator, with comments on the relationships of Tapejaridae.
  7. Tapejara diagram, by David Peters
  8. Tupandactylus illustration, by John Sibbick
  9. Reconstruction of the skull of a Tapejara wellnhoferi,
  10. Fossil reconstruction of a Tupandactylus imperator, by
  11. Tupandactylus replica, at Museu Nacional do Rio De Janeiro (photo by Magerson Bilibio)

How to make a Tupandactylus skull out of foam

Do you want to know how I made it? These are all the posts documenting the making of this model, in order:

  1. Feb 24: I found a Tapejaridae pterosaur in a board of foam!
  2. Feb 25: Inside a pterosaur’s head
  3. Feb 27: Tupandactylus skull details and mandible
  4. Feb 28: Pterosaur #3 almost done
  5. Mar 2: Tupandactylus: reshaping crest and orbits
  6. Mar 3: Pterosaur #3: Tupandactylus imperator (finished skull) (this post)

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