I used six photos of each one of the eight cervical vertebrae as sources, from the same holotype as the skull (stored at the Iwaki Museum in Japan). Each photo shows a view from one side of the vertebra. For each group of six photos, I cut out a “cube”, like this.
Then I assembled it:
And did the same for all the other cervical vertebrae.
I used the cube as a quick guide to help me fabricate the vertebrae. This is a first attempt and I will probably have to redo some vertebrae later, since even with these six views it is still possible to overlook something, lose some detail in the cavities, etc. I will only actually finish the vertebrae when they connect properly. I don’t only expect them to look like vertebrae. I want them to work like vertebrae. Later I will make discs out of silicone rubber and I expect the neck to be able to twist, turn, and to have all the flexibility a neck should have.
But at this point I know nothing. I need something to work on, some prototype. So I start cutting out the sides, the bottom, the front and back parts out of foam. After modelling, some parts may not be necessary, and I might have to add foam, fold, twist, burn. But for now I just cut out the views.
The best part to attach are the two sides, since they are almost flat at the top. From there, I fold the body of the vertebra, opening its sides until I can attach the bottom or the front/back as support. After folding an cutting there are some places I will need to cover up later.
Here it is after attaching these parts. I think this is cervical no. 5 (not counting the Atlas).
After twisting and folding, the foam was not enough to cover the sides. So I will have to close this later:
But those holes are useful for molding. It’s great to have access to the inside. So after the glue dries well (some 6 hours later) I try twisting and folding until I get something like the pictures in the cube. It’s not perfect. This back side, for example, still needs a lot of work since it needs many convex and concave details (I will have to work on these parts after I finish since they are important for connecting the vertebrae.)
But the side and top views seem OK.
After that I can start closing the vertebra with some foam, add fire to trim the edges, reshape and give texture, cut and twist if necessary.
I worked on two vertebrae: the atlas/axis (which connects to the skull) and vertebra number 5 (the last of the long cervical vertebrae). I sanded and stained them before I tested the connections (because of that I might have to redo them later).
And then I repeated the process with the other four long cervicals. Here they are connected (top view):
Here is a view from underneath.
And from the sides:
I only stained vertebra 5 so far. Two more shorter cervicals are missing. I might only have time to work on them in two weeks. And there are still many problems. I have to work on the connections. The pterosaur that uses these vertebrae as they are now has a very stiff neck! I might have to redo some vertebrae. Now that I can test the connections, I finally have feedback about what I need to change.
They aren’t finished, but I tried to connect them to the skull anyway, with the help of some pins and clips.
Here is a view from the sides.
With its new neck, Tupuxuara can now nod and look ahead (when I improve the connections it will also be able to look back :))
I will have to stop working on this model for a week or two. In the meantime, Tupuxuara, now with a neck, will stay floating with the other pterosaur heads. Besides Guidraco, Tupuxuara is the only one of the Imaginary Pterosaurs which has a neck.