Monthly Archives: April 2013

Presentation at the Dinosaur Symposium

The 1st Brazilian Dinosaur Symposium did more than just provide an exhibition space for paleoartists. They also invited us to speak about experiences, techniques, to show and discuss our work in sessions that filled the main auditorium. These are the slides from my presentation about this project (focusing on the Tupuxuara skeleton which was assembled during the symposium).


If you don’t have a Scribd account (or if you never uploaded anything there) you might not be able to download it (only browse online) unless you pay. But you can also downnload it from here (PDF with 180 MB).

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Pterosaurs at the 1st Brazilian Dinosaur Symposium

The Imaginary Pterosaur family has just returned from a week among the dinosaurs! Although pterosaurs are not dinosaurs, they were invited and were a major attraction at the Dinosaur Exhibit that took place during the 1st Brazilian Dinosaur Symposium, at the campus of Federal University of Uberlândia, in Ituiutaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Tupuxuara was assembled in a “taking off” position, and the others had their skulls on display. The skeletons attracted a lot of attention, specially among the kids. Here are some pictures from the event.

This is Tupuxuara being assembled before the opening of the event.


Finished. Now it just needs a place to place its claws.


Some pictures from the opening of the symposium and paleoart exhibit.

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Here is the imaginary pterosaur family at the exhibit.


I had to use lot’s of strings because of the wind.


The exhibit was in an open area.


There were many very young curious visitors every day.

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Guidraco has a body, but only the head was on display at the Symposium. I’m currently fixing the wings (and making it more accurate) for the next event.


My toothless dsungaripterid has now teeth! It has less than it should but I can now finally call it a Dsungaripterus!


I had to slice part of Tupandactylus’s crest so I could transport it (and not pay a lot more for that), but I reattached it (you can barely notice where I cut it).


Here is Anhanguera.


And Tupuxuara preparing to take flight.


There were several other artists displaying their work. Guilherme Gehr painted the canvas below (unfortunately I didn’t have the best light – the actual colors are much better than it looks in the photo).


Rodolfo Nogueira makes incredibly realistic paintings, but all my pictures of his gallery turned out very bad because of the light. I won’t post any here but do click the link because his site is definitely worth a visit!

This is the gallery of Vitor Silva


And this one is by Rafael Albo.


(My photographs of these galleries are very bad. Please visit their websites!)

On the last day, we went hunting for some fossils.

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We digged, digged and digged. Some found bone fragments. I found funny rocks 🙂


But we did find other creatures along the way 🙂


Last day. Tupuxuara was unassembled, and the bones were on display during the closing of the event.


Then it was packed to fly home. But… the package disappeared! They lost it somewhere in the airport. I left the airport with only Anhanguera (which was my hand luggage), hoping the air carrier would quickly find the others.

Fortunately, some four hours later they found the box and it was safely delivered to me. It seems that they were mistakenly taken to the international cargo section. They probably wanted to leave the country!

Our next trip will be to Rio de Janeiro for the international pterosaur conference: Rio Ptero 2013 in a month.


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Making of a Tupuxuara

These are all the posts about building the Tupuxuara reconstruction.

  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 (finished skull)
  6. March 12 Tupuxuara: fixing the jaw
  7. March 17 A neck for Tupuxuara
  8. March 24 Tupuxuara: two more cervicals
  9. March 25 Tupuxuara: the chest
  10. March 28 Tupuxuara: thoracic vertebrae and the notarium, part I
  11. April 2 Tupuxuara: thoracic vertebrae and the notarium, part 2
  12. April 4 Tupuxuara’s shoulders: the scapulocoracoid
  13. April 4 Tupuxuara: planning the wings
  14. April 6 Tupuxuara’s wing: the humerus, radius and ulna, part 1
  15. April 8 Tupuxuara’s very long fourth fingers
  16. April 9 A hand bone
  17. April 10 Tupuxuara’s wing: the humerus, radius and ulna (final)
  18. April 12 Legs for Tupuxuara
  19. April 14Tupuxuara: the pelvis, sacrum and dorsal vertebrae
  20. April 15 Tupuxuara’s wrist: the carpals and pteroids
  21. April 17 Tupuxuara: the tail
  22. April 17 Pterosaur claws
  23. April 17 Pterosaur feet
  24. April 19 Tupuxuara leonardii: assembly (and disassembly)

Update – New posts about Tupuxuara

  1. May 30. The Making of Imaginary Pterosaurs. PDF presentation at Rio Ptero 2013, International Symposium on Pterosaurs.
  2. May 29. Imaginary Pterosaurs in Rio. About Rio Ptero 2013, International Symposium on Pterosaurs, where Tupuxuara was assembled for the second time.
  3. May 21. First prize for Tupuxuara. My Tupuxuara leonardii replica won first prize in a paleontological art contest (I Concurso de Arte Paleontológica do Colecionadores de Ossos), category sculpture.
  4. April 27. Presentation at the Dinosaur Symposium. PDF presentation at the 1st International Dinosaur Symposium.
  5. April 27. Pterosaurs at the 1st Brazilian Dinosaur Symposium. About the 1st International Dinosaur Symposium in Ituiutaba, MG, Brazil.

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Tupuxuara leonardii: assembly (and disassembly)

Here are some pictures of the finished skeleton.
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It stood complete on my table for less than a day. At night I started disassembling it.


Here is the dismantled pterosaur.

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Everything weighs less than one kilo. I had to make a box big enough to fit the head.

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I found some space to place two other skulls and mandibles in the box. Everything weighs five kilos.

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We are traveling to the First Brazilian Dinosaur Symposium, in Ituitaba, MG, Brazil.

Soon I will write a final post on this pterosaur, listing my sources, references, materials used, and listing all the related posts in chronological order.

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Pterosaur feet

It’s finished! In a previous version of this post I had mentioned that I still needed to make the ankle. I don’t. The tibia in adult pterosaurs is not only a fusion of tibia and fibula, but also of the proximal metatarsi called astragalus and calcaneum (the ankle bones). So I don’t have to make any proximal metatarsi (I took an hour to discover that looking at the tibia ends and diagrams of the metatarsi.)

Some bones are missing, and I might add them later. They are 1) five more sets of ribs (2 thoracical, 3 dorsal), 2) gastralia ribs and the 3) pre-pubis (which connect the pubis to the gastralia via cartilage).

I made de feet based on Tapejara and material from an undescribed Thalassodromid. They have the same proportions as Pteranodon, except that the nails of the Thalassodromid are larger. So I used Pteranodon (drawing by Wellnhofer) as a reference and made larger nails.


Here is how it will be assembled. I can’t yet connect it to the tibia bone because I still didn’t make the heel bones (distal metatarsi).


Oops! That’s the wrong end of the tibia!

Here are the two feet in their natural position. I will attach the bone with silicone rubber, but for now I am just going to test so I will connect them with pins.


Here you see two feet on the table near an Anhanguera skull and below some Tupuxuara claws 🙂

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The proximal tarsi (the ankle) are fused with the tibia (the whole bone is called tibiotarsus) so we don’t have to make them. But we do need to make the distal ones (the heel). I used Tapejara carpals (scaled for Tupuxuara) from an article about ankle structure (Kellner 2004). This is the side that connects to the metatarsals.

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And this is the side that faces down when the pterosaur stands.

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The five metatarsi connect to the two distal tarsi.

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Here are some pictures of the final results (the pins are temporary: I will later connect these bones with silicone rubber). This is the right foot.


This is the left foot.


A view of the ankle and heel bones (left foot).


Looking down from the top of the tibia (left foot).




Walking pterosaur.


More claws.


That’s it. In my next post I will publish several pictures of the Tupuxuara assembled in this position (I will assemble it in another position next week). Then I will unassemble it, weigh the skeleton and pack it. It will travel tomorrow to a paleontological conference in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

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Pterosaur claws

I have several photos of individual finger bones from yet undescribed species which might be Tupuxuara. I also have pictures of the fingers of Tapejara wellnhoferi. But I only have photos of the bones of Tapejara from one angle, in black and white and in low resolution, so I can’t really see if they are flattened out, or curved in some direction. I assume they are straight comparing to the other photos I have (unfortunately I can’t post any of those pictures here, since they are all unpublished research). I compared different drawings of pterosaur hands and they seem quite similar. The number of phalanges is the same in all pterosaurs. Including the nails, the pattern for fingers 1-4 (where 4 is the wing) is 2-3-4-4. The sizes, the widths and the shape (curved, straight, flattened) of the phalanges differ across different species. As to the proportions, I found no great differences between some drawings of Tupuxuara hands (from which I have no sources), Tapejara and Pteranodon. So I used this drawing by Wellnhofer, scaled it to mach the size of my Tupuxuara skeleton, and used it as a guide to carve the fingers.

Here are the fingers and metacarpals after carving.

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These are the finger bones and nails before assembly. I already pinned the metacarpals together.

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I have to turn the metacarpals a bit, but this is how the fingers will be assembled.

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Here are Tupuxuara’s claws after assembly. I am using pins to test, but I will later keep the fingers and metacarpals together using some cartilage (silicone rubber). If I use pins all the time it will weaken the foam.

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Now I placed the metacarpals back on the skeleton with the claws in place.

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Here are some other angles showing the left hand.

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This is the right hand.

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Tupuxuara: the tail

There are not many preserved pterosaur tails. I had initially planned to make Tupuxuara’s tail from Pteranodon until a friend told me to look for the tail of Anhanguera piscator. So again my source is Anhanguera (Kellner & Tomida, 2000). I estimated its size,  printed a guide and made eleven caudal vertebrae.

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These are the finished vertebrae.

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To assemble the tail I used a plastic “spinal chord” (made from a plastic hanger) inserted in the tube that I used as the chord inside the pelvis. For now I just fit the vertebrae there. Later I will also attach them together with silicone rubber discs.

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And here is the tail in place. It probably has more than 11 vertebrae. Pteranodon’s tail has two very long vertebrae at the ent, but since this is not even Tupuxuara’s own tail, I decided to leave it as is.

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