Tag Archives: teeth

How to make pterosaur teeth from a plastic hanger

I described how I made the teeth and showed them already attached to the skull but I didn’t describe the details of the process yet. So here it is.

To start you need a candle, a lighter or matches, gloves, cutting pliers.  You also need transparent plastic hanger like this one:

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It should have a tubular structure and the tubes should be about 0.8cm in diameter. Try to get one that has no bubbles in the plastic or that has at least some long sections (more than 3cm) without any bubbles. Break it apart.

Choose a piece of the hanger which has no bubbles, turn it slowly over the candle and move it sideways (heat about 2 cm of plastic). Do that for a few seconds (10-15 seconds). Don’t let the flame touch the plastic. You should do this in a ventilated area (and use leather gloves to protect from the hot plastic).

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You will notice that after a few seconds the heated part will become brighter and translucid (with very small bubbles). You can move it away from the candle now, and it will continue to heat and become softer.

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When that happens, pull slowly, then stronger, until it starts to give in.

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Hold it over a curved surface to shape it if you wish (a tube with a diameter of 10cm if you are making curved pterosaur teeth). Wait for some 15 seconds and when it becomes solid you can let it go.

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Practice leaving the plastic under the flame for more or less time until you achieve the desired results. If it heats too much, when you pull it may get too thin or break. Try pulling slower. You can obtain different effects with the plastic pulling faster or slower, letting it go before solidifying, or heating more or less and even letting it break. Be careful to not burn the plastic. It gets black, unusable and the smoke is very toxic.

When solid, you can break the halfes apart, trim to the desired size, and you have two teeth.

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But the melted plastic doesn’t really look like teeth, does it? You have to carve it a bit using a knife as if you were sharpening a pencil until you have something in the shape of sharp teeth.

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The next step is to cut the teeth out. Not so easy. This kind of plastic is very hard and you won’t be able to cut it with regular pliers. You can use a hot knife or cutting pliers of the kind that cuts padlocks. I tried smaller ones but they would crack the plastic. Protect yourself cutting the plastic in a bag or box, since the parts may go flying out when split apart.

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That’s it. Now we have teeth.

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The last step is to attach the teeth with epoxi resin to the skull using a picture of the fossil as a guide.

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Anhanguera’s skull with teeth

I finally added a full set of teeth to the skull, which is almost done. Now I am going to separate the mandible so I can work on it, and then I’m done. This is the result so far.

openside

open

closed

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Anhanguera’s new teeth

I still need to make and attach some 30 teeth, but the most important ones are in place! This pterosaur has perfect teeth: it probably wore braces when young.

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More research and some teeth

My research is usually limited by what I can find on the web. Most technical papers are not free, and my budget would quickly disappear if I had to pay for many of them during my brainstorm research. I was having trouble figuring out how to lay out the teeth, but I discovered a local paleontologist, Hebert Bruno Campos, who lent me a publication on Anhanguera (Kellner & Tomida, 2000).

There I found detailed diagrams of the teeth:

research teeth 2 research teeth

And of the skull of Anhanguera piscator.

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These are the first teeth. Today I think I will have enough time to attach all the other teeth.

teeth on

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Back to the head: now it bites!

The teeth are not made of foam. I decided to try a technique I had previously used in a Fish Mask I made three years ago. So I bought a transparent PVC hanger, got a candle and heated the plastic until it got soft. Then I stretched it slowly, and made a pair of teeth, which later I carved and separated from the hanger. Here are some teeth.

And this is the pterosaur so far, with bones, vertebrae, head and teeth. Now I have to assemble it.

I used the Guidraco venator head as a reference, and made teeth in several sizes. I used epoxy to glue the teeth to the head. I have still to reinforce the head and make it thicker, but I will do that later when I have more information about the skull. So it is still a bit fragile. If it bites, it will break its mouth.

This is the head of a Guidraco venator. I not only added the teeth, but I also made it a bit longer. I think now it no longer looks like a pelican.

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