“Hey Tupuxuara, this is your unnamed cousin! Can you lend me your neck for a minute? I need to take a picture!”
This reconstruction was based on photos that were on display at a website that sells fossils (Paleo Direct). It wasn’t studied, it has no formal identification and no name. Some paleontologists believe it has been adulterated, and one of them believes it’s fake. I think it might have been damaged, even altered, but not significantly. Well, if it really is fake, then I have made a reconstruction of an inexistent imaginary pterosaur… but hey! That is totally consistent with the project of this blog 🙂
I made this one very fast. First because I didn’t have to do much speculative research. I used the source photos, and based the unknown parts on Thalassodromeus and Tupuxuara. Second, because I’m getting better at this. It still takes three days because I have to wait for the glue to dry before continuing. So I might work for 20 minutes, and wait an hour or two before working again for another 20 minutes. When I work in different parts of the skeleton I can be more productive. In this case, I worked simultaneously on the skull and on the mandible and was able to speed things up a bit. It took me three hours to make the first foam “3D sketch” of the skull. And then another three hours for the mandible and palate. Then I spent eight hours adding the little details (which make all the difference). And finally two more hours to finish it with resin and coffee.
The material I used was:
- One 100 x 60 x 0.3 cm sheet of XPS foam
- Scraps of XPS foam of other densities and widths for details
- 50g of foam glue (PVA – Polyvinyl acetate diluted in alcohol)
- 100 ml of acrylic resin (modelling paste)
- Coffee (for stains)
And these are the final dimensions and weight:
- Length (beak to rear crest): 63 cm
- Width (jaw hinge): 12 cm
- Height without mandible: 26 cm
- Height with mandible: 30 cm
- Mandible width: 10 cm
- Mandible length: 47 cm
- Total weight: 105 grams
The only dimensions I obtained from the fossil photograph were height and length (based on the length informed by the seller, since the photos had no scale information). The width was estimated using Thalassodromeus and Tupuxuara as referenes.
The skull should get lighter during the next couple of weeks, when the resins and glues dry completely (when I first weighed Tupuxuara’s skull it weighed 290 grams; One month later it weighed 220 grams).
Here are photos of the finished skull.
Mandible (dorsal view)
Mandible and skull
With a neck
(Using Tupuxuara’s cervicals)
Right orbit details
This is pterosaur #6 compared with pterosaur #5 (Tupuxuara leonardii).
And here is the whole Imaginary Pterosaur family so far: Guidraco (#1), Tupandactylus (#3), Anhanguera (#2), Dsungaripterus (#4), Tupuxuara (#5) and pterosaur #6.
List of posts about pterosaur #6
Here is a list of all the posts related to the construction of this skull. Many of the techniques I used here I have detailed before in posts about the other skulls.
- A new species from the Cretaceous of Brazil
- Pterosaur #6: the palate and the mandible
- Pterosaur #6: details, details
- Imaginary pterosaur #6: an unknown thalassodromid/tapejarid (this post).
Sources and Acknowledgements
The only fossil source I used to make this model were four photos that were recently available at the Paleo Direct site (one of them I posted here). They aren’t there anymore. Besides that I had help from the paleontologist Hebert Bruno Campos, from whom I obtained information on the palate, mandible and skull details of the Thalassodromeus, used to fill the gaps.