Friday, July 1, 2011

Pterosaur Restoration Pre-Production Thoughts

Hello paleo-enthusiasts! For a personal project at work I'm creating an animated restoration of Tupandactylus. I just started the model, and have been doing a decent amount of pterosaur reading the last few months.

Since I'm still in the VERY early stages, and am by no means a pterosaur expert, I wanted to go ahead and ask the community what common errors people typically make in pterosaur reconstructions that I should be aware of? Because of the short timeline of this project, I'm going against my instinct and trying not to get too sucked into the research, since the ultimate goal of this is more for eye-candy. Despite this, I would like it to feel authentic. If anyone has any thoughts, please let me know! And I will eventually get around to posting work-in-progress renders!

Thanks All!



Matt Martyniuk said...

The biggest mistake I often see in reconstructions of tapejarids and Tupandactylus in particular is restoring the crest as if it is a sail made of skin stretched between two bony prongs. Many artists read that it is a sail-like structure made of soft tissue, and presume this means skin. In fact, the tissue making up the crest would have been rigid, made of keratin or touch cartilaginous fibers. In some specimens the gradient between the bone and soft tissue is obvious, so the whole thing was probably one continuous structure, likely with a rounded posterior end.

More genrally, pterosaur reconstructions often suffer from bat-wing syndrome--not in terms of fingers supporting the wing, but of restoring the wing as a thin skeletal hand stretched with a loose flap of skin. The wing membrane was not skin but a slightly thickened structure containing muscle, rigid past the elbow, with slightly rounded tips. The area around the arm and wing finger was full of air sacs, and in life the 'outline; of the arm, trailing finger edge, pteroid, etc. probably would not even have been visible.

Note that with Tupandactylus, as in most beaked vertebrates, the horny beak did not extend much past the front edge of the nasoantorbital fenestra. Only the tips of the snout bore a beak, and it probably ended at the symphysis of the lower jaws (where there was apparently a Pterorhynchus-like 'beard' of pycnofibres!).

Evan Boucher said...


Wow! Thank you so much for all of this! It will prove to be super helpful (not to mention the bit about the arm being more embedded in the wing actually makes it much easier for me to build). Some of this confirmed things I was thinking, as well as answered some questions I had. I'll be sure to share some images when I'm done with the model. Finished most of the head today. Very exciting. Thanks again!