Imaginary Pterosaur #7: Tapejara wellnhoferi finished

2013-08-26 14.55.59

This is the final post about Imaginary Pterosaur #7 Tapejara wellnhoferi (which is now on display at Museu dos Dinossauros de Peirópolis, in Uberaba, Brazil.) It contains images of each individual part in several angles (236 photos in scale photographed over a 5mm grid) and other information about the project.

This is a list of the posts that describe the making of this replica:

  1. Jul 2: Imaginary Pterosaur #7: Tapejara wellnhoferi
  2. Jul 4: Tapejara skull, part 2: mandible and crest
  3. Jul 5: Tapejara skull, part 3: neurocranium, quadrate, lacrimal
  4. Jul 6: Unfinished Tapejara skull
  5. Jul 15: Tapejara cervical vertebrae
  6. Jul 18: Tapejara’s dorsal vertebrae
  7. Jul 27: Tapejara arm bones: humeri, radii & ulnae
  8. Jul 27: Tapejara wings
  9. Jul 27: Tapejara pelvis and legs
  10. Aug 1: Tapejara’s hands and feet
  11. Aug 1: Tapejara carpals and pteroid
  12. Aug 14: Tapejara: shoulders and chest
  13. Aug 19: Tapejara: pectoral girdle
  14. Aug 19: Tapejara: pelvic girdle
  15. Aug 22: Tapejara: abdominal bones
  16. Aug 22: Tapejara: caudal vertebrae
  17. Aug 24: Tapejara’s Neurocranium revisited
  18. Aug 24: Tapejara: improvements and fixes
  19. Aug 28: Assembling Tapejara wellnhoferi
  20. Aug 28: Imaginary Pterosaur #7 Tapejara wellnhoferi finished (this post)

This replica is 25% larger than the specimen used as a size reference, IMCF 1061 (Iwaki Museum, Japan), which is a juvenile specimen. The dimensions and weights shown below are approximate, and sometimes only lengths, or length and width are specified (in long bones, for example). The photos of the individual parts, which are also available, might provide a better reference.

Dimensions of assembled pterosaur in flight position

  • Width (assembled wingspan): 180 cm
  • Length (beak to toetip): 100 cm
  • Height (skull height): 25 cm

Other dimensions

  • Wingspan (wing bones and carpals stacked in line): 200 cm
  • Length of body (beak to tail): 70 cm
  • Length of spine (atlas to tail): 50 cm

Total weight

  • Bones: 300 g
  • Assembled (with silicone rubber): 350 g (estimated)


  • Total number of individual parts created: 198
  • Attached permanently (with epoxy): 6 (quadratojugal, lacrimal, postorbital)
  • Not used: 2 (sternal ribs)
  • Total number of parts used in final skeleton: 190 (attached with silicone rubber)

Dimensions of individual parts

Number of parts are in parenthesis. Dimensions and weights are approximate or averages. For a more detailed reference on dimensions use the images which were photographed over a 5mm grid.

1. Skull (5 parts): 90 g


Skull (rostrum, palate, etc.) (1)  32.5 x 18.5 x 6.5 cm  42 g
Neurocranium (1)  15.5 x 7 x 6 cm  35 g
Mandible (1)  19 x 6 x 4.5 cm  10 g
Quadrates (2)  7 x 2.5 cm  < 3 g (both)

View 44 images of the skull bones

2. Spine (31 parts): 85 g


Atlas/axis cervical (1)  2.3 x 2.5 x 2.9 cm  3 g
Cervicals 3 to 7 (5)  4.7 x 2.9 x 2.7 cm (avg)  5 g (each), 25 g (all)
Cervicals 8 and 9 (2)  2.3 x 3.6 x 2.9 cm (avg)  3 g (each), 6 g (both)
Dorsal vertebrae (12)  1.5 x 4.2 x 3.5 cm (avg)  3 g (each), 35 g (all)
Sacrum (1)  9 x 4.6 x 3.5 cm  12 g
Caudal vertebrae (10)  9 cm (full tail)  < 3 g (all)

View 89 images of the vertebrae, sacrum and tail

3. Pectoral girdle (45 parts): 35 g


Sternum (1)  8.3 x 6.2 x 2 cm  5 g
Scapula (2)  8 cm  3 g (both)
Coracoid (2)  6.7 cm  3 g (both)
Ribs (22)  3.5 to 6.5 cm (curved)  20 g (all)
Sternal ribs (18)  1.7 to 4.5 cm  5 g (all)

View 21 images of the pectoral bones

4. Pelvic girdle (15 parts): 15 g


Ilium & preacetabular process (2)  8 cm  2 g (both)
Ischium (2)  2.8 x 2.5 cm  3 g (both)
Pubis (2)  3 x 2.5 cm  2 g (both)
Postacetabular process (2)  3.5 x 2.3 cm  3 g (both)
Pre-pubis (2)  4.5 x 2.2 cm  2 g (both)
Gastralia (5)  4.2 x 2.5 cm  5 g (all)

View 14 images of the pelvic bones

5. Wings and fingers (48 parts): 60 g

2013-08-26 08.02.21

Humerus (2)  11 cm  10 g (both)
Radius(2)  15 cm  7 g (both)
Ulna (2)  15 cm  6 g (both)
Proximal syncarpal (2)  2.3 x 1.8 x 1 cm  < 2 g (both)
Distal syncarpal (2)  2.3 x 1.8 x 1 cm  < 2 g (both)
Medial carpal (2)  1.3 x 1 x 0.8 cm  < 2 g (both)
Pteroid (2)  7 cm  < 2 g (both)
Wing metacarpal (2)  14 cm  8 g (both)
Finger metacarpals (6)  13.5 cm  < 3 g (all)
Wing phalanx 1 (2)  21 cm  6 g (both)
Wing phalanx 2 (2)  17 cm  4 g (both)
Wing phalanx 3 (2)  14 cm  3 g (both)
Wing phalanx 4 (2)  9 cm  2 g (both)
Finger phalanges (12)  2.5, 2/1.8, 2.1/0.8/1.6 cm  5 g (all)
Fingernails (6)  1.8 x 1.1 x 0.3 cm (avg)  < 3 g (all)

View 50 images of the wings and fingers

6. Legs and feet (46 parts): 15 g


Femur (2)  12.5 cm  5 g (both)
Tibiotarsus (2)  17.5 cm  5 g (both)
Distal tarsals (4)  1 x 0.5 x 0.5 cm  1 g (all)
Metatarsals (8)  4.2, 4.4, 3.8, 3.5 (cm)  < 2 g (all)
Fifth toe (2)  1.2 cm  < 1 g (both)
Toe phalanges (20)  2, 1.3/1.8, 1.7/0.6/1.6, 2/0.5/0.5/1.3 (cm)  < 3 g (all)
Toenails (8)  1.7 x 0,7 x 0.2 cm  < 2 g (all)

View 18 images of the legs and feet

Sources: specimens used

This replica used the following specimens as sources. The accuracy is limited by the quality of the photos (some were obtained in black and white from the printed or PDF article), the accuracy of the scale, sufficient views, lighting, resolution, etc. When using multiple sources sometimes I had to choose between one or the other, and sometimes I used data from both. Many of these photos are copyrighted and I only had permission to use them for the project (but not publish them here). I am grateful to all who gave me access to the images from these specimens.

  1. SMNK PAL 1137 Tapejara wellnhoferi. Used as a source for the metatarsals, tibiotarsi, femora, radii, ulnae, humeri, carpals, finger nails, sternum, pelvic girdle, neurocranium, and as a first prototype of the cervical and dorsal vertebrae (later improved with data from IMCF 1061).
  2. AMNH 24440 Tapejara wellnhoferi. Used for the first skull prototype, the lacrimal bone, post-orbital, rostrum and crest, and for scaling the cervical vertebrae.
  3. IMCF 1061 Tapejara wellnhoferi. Used as the main source for the rostrum, mandible, quadrate, wing phalanges 1 to 3, humeri, pteroids, occipital bone, neurocranium, cervical vertebrae (second prototype), dorsal vertebrae (second prototype).
  4. MN 6595-V Tapejara wellnhoferi (holótipo). Used for reviewing the skull proportions.
  5. SMNK PAL 3986 Tapejara wellnhoferi. Used for scaling wing bones against the mandible.
  6. MCT-1500-R Tapejara wellnhoferi. Used for a first attempt at making the internal cranium and occipital bone (I later replaced it with data from IMCF 1061).
  7. SMNK 3985 Tapejara wellnhoferi. Used for scaling the size of the sternum agains the humerus.
  8. MN 6588-V Tapejaridae. Used as a source for the pre-pubis.
  9. IMCF 1502 Tupuxuara leonardii. Used as a source for the fourth wing phalanx and as a guide for the scapulocoracoid (later replaced with better data from IMCF 1061); this specimen was also used as an initial guide to the palate.
  10. NSM-PV 19892 Anhanguera piscator. Used a source for the caudal vertebrae.
  11. YPM 2546 Pteranodon longiceps. Used as a source for the shape of the sternal ribs, and as a guide to the general aspect of the sacrum, fingers and toes.
  12. Undescribed thalassodromid. Images sent by Mark Witton which were used to make the pelvic girdle in Tupuxuara were used as a source to for the general aspect of the sacrum.

Sources: publications

These are some of the publications I have used to inspire decisions about how to create bones that were not available in photos, how to assemble the skeleton, and other information about Tapejara and pterosaurs in general. I also used the diagrams, drawings and reconstructions in these publications as sources for the bones and assembly, usually when the fossil images were bad or when the fossils themselves were damaged. Many of these publications have conflicting data and I had to choose between them or decide on using something in between.

  1. Kellner, A. W. A. (1989). A new edentate pterosaur of the Lower Cretaceous from the Araripe Basin, Northeast Brazil. Anais de Academia Brasileira de Ciencias, 61, 439–446.
  2. Eck, K., Elgin, R.A. and Frey, E. (2011). On the osteology of Tapejara wellnhoferi KELLNER 1989 and the first occurrence of a multiple specimen assemblage from the Santana Formation, Araripe Basin, NE-BrazilSwiss Journal of Palaeontology
  3. Wellnhofer P, Kellner A. W. A (1991) The skull of Tapejara wellnhoferi Kellner (Reptilia, Pterosauria) from the Lower Cretaceous Santana Formation of the Araripe Basin, northeastern Brazil. Mitt. Bayer. Staatsslg Paläont hist Geol 31: 89–106.
  4. Elgin R. and Campos H. B. N.  (2011). A new specimen of the azhdarchoid pterosaur Tapejara wellnhoferi. Hist Biol DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2011.613467.
  5. Kellner, A.W.A. (1996) . Description of the braincase of two Early Cretaceous pterosaurs (Pterodactyloidea) from Brazil. American Museum Novitates vol. 3168 , p. 1 – 34
  6. Kellner, A.W. A. (2004). The ankle structure of two pterodactyloid pterosaurs from the Santana Formation (Lower Cretaceous), Brazil. Bulletin AMNH 285: 25-35.
  7. Sayão J. M., Kellner A. W. A. (2006) Novo esqueleto parcial de pterossauro (Pterodactyloidea, Tapejaridae) do Membro Crato (Aptiano), Formação Santana, Bacia do Araripe, nordeste do Brasil. Estudos Geológicos 16, 16–40.
  8. Kellner A. W. A. (2004) New information on the Tapejaridae (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea) and discussion of the relationships of this clade. Ameghiniana 41: 521–534.
  9. Kellner A. W. A.  and Tomida Y. (2000). Description of a new species of Anhangueridae (Pterodactyloidea) with comments on the pterosaur fauna from the Santana Formation (Aptian-Albian), northeastern Brazil. National Science Museum Monograph 17:1-135
  10. O. Kuhn and  P. Wellnhofer. (1978). Handbuch der Palaoherpetologie. Teil 19: Pterosauria
  11. Witton. M. (2013). Pterosaurs. Princeton University Press.
  12. Wellnhofer, P. (1991) Illustrated Encyclopedia of Pterosaurs. Crescent Press.
  13. Claessens LPAM, O’Connor PM, Unwin DM (2009) Respiratory Evolution Facilitated the Origin of Pterosaur Flight and Aerial Gigantism. PLoS ONE 4(2): e4497. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004497

I also had help from the paleontologists Hebert Campos, Felipe Pinheiro and specially Brian Andres, who sent me images, information, articles and helped me make decisions when I had to deal with incomplete or conflicting data.

I may have forgotten something and will update this post when I remember. I also used several images and texts from websites, usually via Google, and I still didn’t list them up there.

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