In a few days I will travel with my pterosaurs to the 3rd International Symposium on Pterosaurs: Rio Ptero 2013. I decided to take some time and add one more skull to the family.
This fossil was on sale at Paleodirect but not anymore. Either it was sold or (hopefully) acquired by a paleontological institution. I am making the skull out of foam using only the few photos that were available online (unfortunately the link is now broken). This is the main photo.
It consists of a full skull and mandible, and the first cervical vertebra and is about 60cm long. Compare it to the Tupuxuara (a Thalassodromid). If you look at the position of the orbit, the two crests, the mandible, you might say it’s a Thalassodromid. But if you look at the beak and the size of the head it might remind you of a tapejarid, such as Ingridia navigans, for example. It’s somewhere in between these two genera and it’s evidence that Thalassodromids and Tapejarids may be somehow related.
Since the rear part of the skull is very similar to the Tupuxuara, I will use the Tupuxuara as a model for the palate and the bones behind and inside the head.
I started out as usual, transferring the outlines of the fossil to a sheet of foam, scaled to the fossil’s dimensions. Since the heads of these pterosaurs are almost flat, I don’t have to compensate much of what I lose due to the 2D projection (I just compensate a bit around the orbits and below the mandible). Lost details I can always add later, with extra bits of foam.
This is the final sketch.
You can now finally see what it looks with the beak open.
After cutting out the two halves I spent some time pressing, folding, and shaping the foam to make it three-dimensional, and cutting out some details. I don’t really know what that cavity near the beak tip is. I also compensated the shape of the nasoantorbital fenestra which seems to have some details still hidden behind the rock (the lacrimal fossa, perhaps).
Then I glued the two halves together. Tomorrow I will continue and add intra-cranial details such as the palate, occipital bone and cavities.