Imaginary pterosaurs in Rio

The Imaginary Pterosaurs have just returned from a trip to Rio, where they were on display during the Rio Ptero 2013: International Symposium on Pterosaurs, at the National Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. It was my first pterosaur symposium and also where I had the opportunity to examine real pterosaur fossils for the first time (so far, I had only seen photos). I also had the opportunity to meet many of the researchers whose articles and books have inspired me, and which I have used as sources to make and improve my models. Here are some photos and a brief non-technical overview of the event.

I didn’t only take my art to the Rio symposium. I also acted as a curator and displayed the pterosaur art of Sergey Krasovskiy. I printed some large ones which you can see here on the box where most of the pterosaurs are safely packed.


This pterosaur box was lost for 24 hours in the airport during my last trip. It was hard to find since it looked just like a plain box. This time I decided to paint something on it. In case they lose it, it shouldn’t be very hard to locate. Almost all the pterosaurs are in these boxes. There are four skulls and skeletons in the big box, the Anhanguera is in that smaller one (which I carry as hand luggage) and I packed the Tupandactylus with my other checked luggage (I had to slice it it three parts, though).


After spending some 1000 reais (~500 US dollars) to take my pterosaurs to the Dinosaur symposium in Minas, last month, I had to spend a similar amount to register, buy tickets and other expenses for the Rio conference. I haven’t worked much in the field where most of my income comes from (computer programming) since I have dedicated a lot of time to this art. As a result I am currently low on funds, so I decided to make some T-shirts and other art that I could sell at the symposium. These are the T-shirts I planned:


Way too expensive. I had to make them black and white, otherwise they would cost too much and nobody would buy them. I made 30. Sold 20, which was just enough to cover their cost (I gave away 4 so I still have 5 left, besides the one I kept). I made some acrylic painted paper pterosaurs which I sold half and gave away the others. I also sold some of the prints, but it wasn’t enough to cover the printing costs. So my business strategy didn’t work out very well, but it was worth it (I’m still selling the 5 shirts :)). Many thanks to everyone who bought these products!


By the way, the paper craft plans for those pterosaurs will be published here in PDF as soon as I have time to finish them.

My pterosaur skulls and paper models were on display on a table and the Tupuxuara was assembled in flight position (for the first time). I would like to thank Christopher Bennett, Darren Naish, Nathan Carroll, Ashley Poust, David Unwin and Felipe Pinheiro for pointing out inaccuracies in the assembly, which I was able to fix.

Below: me and Felipe Pinheiro while I was assembling the Tupuxuara (photo by Samuel Lima).


Here is my Tupuxuara leonardii based on photos of the Iwaki specimen (ICMF 1502).


My Tupandactylus skull (based on the holotype and other sources). Photo by Paulo Marcio Esper.


Anhanguera, Dsungaripterus, and the undescribed thalassodromid that was for sale at PaleoDirect. Photo by Paulo Marcio Esper.


Here are some pictures of the paleoart exhibition. Besides my sculptures and Sergey Krasovskiy’s pictures, there were also some fantastic sculptures, drawings and paintings by Maurilio Oliveira. This is his Thalassodromeus (photo by Paulo Marcio Esper):


And this is one that was on display (which I found in his Facebook page).


Maurilio was also drawing pterosaurs during the event (photo by Samuel Lima):


You can see that I hung the skeleton with fishing line. It now weighs 950 grams (it gets lighter every day).


I didn’t assemble the Guidraco skeleton, as you can see, but I spread its bones on the table.



Here is view showing most of the exhibit. Sergey’s paintings are on the left and Maurilio’s are on the right.


On the last day there were also two paintings by Paulo Márcio Esper (his first pterosaur drawings). I don’t have pictures from his exhibit, but I found this one in his Facebook page:


I didn’t spend much time near my art since I was very interested in attending all the sessions. It was a small event. There were about 50 people. I still have a lot to learn before I can participate in many of the discussions there, but it was very instructive and it was definitely worth all the effort to be there.

Here are some pictures. This is Christopher Bennett discussing about the structure of the pterosaur wing (the Rhanphorincus Zittel wing).


David Unwin, the author of one of my favorite books on pterosaurs.


And Darren Naish, whom I knew previously from his blog Tetrapod Zoology.


Here is a news broadcast on local TV (in Portuguese) that was recorded a couple of hours before the beginning of the event (I hadn’t even finished assembling the Tupuxuara).

On the first night we had the opportunity to visit the pterosaurs and dinosaurs at the National Museum, where the opening cocktail would happen (the symposium was actually in the auditorium of another building, at the botanical garden of the museum). The museum is situated in the building below which was the residence of the royal family of Portugal from 1801 to 1821. It is situated in the middle of a beautiful park called Quinta da Boa Vista.


Here is a classic scene from the Cretaceous of Brazil: an Irritator attacking an Anhanguera. This is actually based on fossil evidence: a tooth from this dinosaur was found in an anhanguerid cervical vertebra.


This is a view of the dinosaur hall. Look up! There is a giant pterosaur (Tropeognathus mesembrinus) above you.


A very nice cast of a Tupandactylus imperator.


The holotype of the Tupandactylus is not at the National Museum, but in the Museum of Earth Sciences where we had the second after meeting cocktail.


When you enter the museum there is a large picture of a Thalassodromeus sethi pterosaur skimming for fish painted on the floor (by Maurilio Oliveira).



The museum is fascinating. Unfortunately my camera batteries died, and so did my phone and I was unable to get a picture of the Tupandactylus. (But I caught this dinosaur sleeping in its egg just before the batteries died.)


Unfortunately some presentations were cancelled since the speakers didn’t make it to Rio. But then I, who was not scheduled to speak, was offered the opportunity to do so. Many thanks to the organizers of the event for this opportunity to share my experiences in making my pterosaur skeleton sculptures. I have published the presentation here before, but I updated it recently. I will later publish it here for whoever wants to download it. Photo below by Samuel Lima.


The event lasted three days. On the last day we had the celebration dinner in Urca with a fantastic view of the Botafogo bay and the Pão de Açucar. Pictures? Nope. I forgot the camera this time 😦

On Sunday some people went on a city tour, and others spent the day at the museum examining fossils. Since I had never touched pterosaur fossils before, it was my opportunity. There were several holotypes to see, including Thalassodromeus sethi (pictures below), Cearadactylus atrox, Tapejara wellnhoferi, and others. Here are Darren Naish and David Unwin examining the Thalassodromeus.



I made a lot of pictures of the Anhanguera blittersdorfi skull. It might be one of my next projects.


After that I packed everything and free at last enjoyed an incredible walking tour around Ipanema, Lapa and the old centre at night, with Nathan Carroll and Ashley Poust (from the US), hosted by Lilian Cruz (from the National Museum).

And that’s it. It was a great week. Thanks to Alexander Kellner, Juliana Sayão, Taissa Rodrigues, Fabiana Costa, Maurilio Oliveira, João Carlos Ferreira and all the others who organized and contributed to the success of the event. Special thanks to Elaine Machado, Lilian Cruz and Kamila Bandeira for helping me out with the exhibition, and to Samuel Lima and Paulo Marcio Esper for the photos. Please forgive me if I forgot anyone.

On Monday some flew north to the field trip at the Araripe plateau, and I flew back to São Paulo with my pterosaurs.




Filed under News and Exhibits

5 responses to “Imaginary pterosaurs in Rio

  1. Pingback: The “Imaginary Pterosaur” Artist, Helder da Rocha and his peek into Rio Ptero 2013 | The Pterosaur Heresies

  2. You selling any of those last 5 t-shirts?

  3. Oh. You are. How could that be arranged?

  4. I think I still have three. I can check tonight. Sizes small and large. I’m selling for R$35.00 each (~17 USD) and I think (also have to check) it costs something around 20 USD to ship it to Europe or US. If you are interested you can pay via PayPal. Send me an email.

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

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