Pterosaur #5: Tupuxuara leonardii


It’s finished! There you have a giant pterosaur head 35 piano keys long.

Below is the skull after applying a layer of acrylic resin (modeling paste), and later stained with coffee. I used no paint this time. Only natural stains. The resin is slightly yellowish, almost white. The coffee gave it a natural color and dark shadows filled the smaller cavities increasing the contrast of the texture.


This time I decided to use the least resin and gauze as possible. I used it a lot with the Tupandactylus. As a result, Tupuxuara weighs almost half of Tupandactylus. It is also much thinner and it’s crest is translucid against sunlight.


Using less resin also preserved the natural texture of the burned foam, which somewhat resembles the petrified skin, with the veins and arteries that appear in some well preserved Tupuxuara fossils.


To make it I used the following material:

  • One 1.0 x 1.2 m sheet of XPS foam board, 5mm thick (I used all of it)
  • Some pieces of a 3 mm XPS foam board (of a different brand)
  • Less than 100g of PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue (adhesive for foam)
  • Less than 100 ml of modeling paste (acrylic resin)
  • Epoxi resin (very little – for reinforcing the beak tip and jaw articulation)
  • Coffee powder (for stains)

These are the final dimensions and weight of this model:

  • Mandible height: 4.8 cm
  • Mandible maximum width: 12 cm
  • Mandible length: 80 cm
  • Height of the skull (without mandible): 34 cm
  • Height of the skull (with mandible): 36 cm
  • Maximum width of the skull: 12.5 cm
  • Length of the skull: 103 cm
  • Weight: 290 g


I practically used only one image source: photos of the fossil preserved at the Iwaki Museum in Japan. Unfortunately I don’t have permission to post them here. It would be interesting to compare the results. For the mandible, which I didn’t have enough information, I compared photos of a Tupuxuara replicas and fossils available from Google image searches.

From this article: Pinheiro & Schultz 2012, I obtained additional information about the palate.


My source for the mandible was a single side view. I had to look at pictures from other models of Tupuxuara which showed very little detail. As usual, I work with what I have, and imagine the rest. Based on that data I made the mandible below:


This mandible is incorrect. The closed area should be bigger and the shape is different. I had already suspected the sides (mandible ramus) were proportionally too long (considering other pterosaurs), and as soon as I started to write this post I finally received some photos of the actual mandible in many different angles. It is different: the closed area (mandible body) is some 10-12 cm longer and it has a different shape. This week I will discover how I can fix it.

UPDATE: I fixed the mandible. There is a new post about it.

Inside the head

This is the imaginary part of this Tupuxuara model. I didn’t find any fossil pictures that showed the details inside the skull, so I inferred it from the external structures, bird skulls, other pterosaurs and some imagination.


There is a concave rounded cavity (only partially visible in this picture) for each eyeball, as in the previous skulls. The picture below shows the eye cavities (seen from below, through the apertures in the back of the head):


The palate


The palate was always an almost imaginary part in all my previous models. This is the first time I use fossil data to model it from. The photographs were very detailed and I did some additional research to infer how to place the bones in space.

This is a view from the bottom of the skull, showing the palate.


This is a side view of the rear palate:


And a view from the top:


Here is a close-up of the rear palate showing layers of palate bones.


Occipital view

Like the palate, there are few pictures of pterosaur skulls that show the back of the head. Since I had photos in good resolution I tried to make it as detailed as possible; It wasn’t as easy as the palate though: the head was not completely hollowed out and it wasn’t photographed in many angles, which made it harder to discover the three-dimensional shape of the bones (I rely on shadows and reflections).


Sides, top, bottom views


Other views

Here is the skull with the mandible attached and open.


And, to finish this post, Tupuxuara on the piano showing the opposite side (and revealing that it is actually 60 piano keys long! (if you count the black keys as well)


And now Delacroix’s Young Orphan in the Cemetery (obviously a falsification) is surrounded by five floating skeletons:

Jeune Orpheline au Cimetière de Ptérosaures (Delacroix falsification and hanging sculptures by Helder da Rocha.)

How to make a Tupuxuara 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. March 7: Starting pterosaur #5: Tupuxuara leonardii
  2. March 8: Tupuxuara: adding a palate
  3. March 8: Tupuxuara: the mandible, some trimming and molding
  4. March 9: Tupuxuara: details, details
  5. March 10: Pterosaur #5: Tupuxuara leonardii (this post)
  6. March 12: Tupuxuara: Fixing the jaw

(Of course, if you want your own Tupuxuara skull and don’t want to make one, you can always hire me to make one for you 🙂 )


1 Comment

Filed under Pterosaur #5: Tupuxuara

One response to “Pterosaur #5: Tupuxuara leonardii

  1. Pingback: Making of a Tupuxuara | The Imaginary Pterosaur

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s