Tapejara is a pterosaur from the Cretaceous deposits of Brazil. Historically, several species have been referred to this genus, each species was differentiated based on the shape and size of their head crests. Safari’s offering shows a tall semicircular crest and a long prong protruding from the back of the head, this arrangement is characteristic of the species Tapejara imperator. However, recent studies looking into the anatomical diversity of Tapejara showed that T. imperator is sufficiently distinct from all other forms of Tapejara to warrant status as a new genus – Tupandactylus. So, although Wild Safari label this figure as Tapejara, strictly speaking it should be called Tupandactylus.
Although the colour scheme in the Wild Safari figure is reminiscent of the Tapejara featured in Walking with Dinosaurs, those featured in the program had crests characteristic of “Tapejara navigans“, another species in need of a new genus name. The true inspiration for this figure was clearly this piece of palaeoartwork featured on the Blog del Paleontologo, the pose and colours are an identical match.
The ‘in-flight’ sculpt is very nice and the pose portrays a lot of movement, the arms are raised and the wings are gently arched as if they are catching the wind. The pectoral region is almost bulging with flight muslculature but the sculpt is otherwise very light. The animal is so lightly built, in fact, that the plastic is mostly thin and flexible. As you can see from the pictures, my figure seems to be inquisitively titling its head to the side, but this is because it was distorted in transport, as far as I’m aware the head would normally be held straight.
The figure has a 22cm wingspan. The main wing membrane joins the leg at the knee and there is an additional membrane in front of the arm (the propatagium). Tiny membranes are also sculpted linking the tail to the inside of the legs. There is another membrane too – the striking red membrane on the head between the two long prongs on the crest. This was a stunning creature!
The hands and feet are nicely detailed – the three clawed digits in each hand are individually sculpted (the fourth digit in the hand forms the leading edge of the wing) and the five toes are individually sculpted on each foot. The upper surface of the clawed digits have a nicely pronounced row of scales (this row faces downward in the feet because the soles are facing upwards). A similar attention to detail is present all over the figure. A fine covering of fur has been sculpted over main body of the animal, wrinkles on the wings and crest membrane give an impression of taut and slack areas, the bony part of the crest is covered with a delightfully rugose texture, it’s all very well done.
The colouration is equally well done, the main body consists of browns and yellows, the chest and parts of the furry underside are highlighted in white (somehow reminds me of a the back of a mature male silverback gorilla). The head is a rainbow of colours; blue, lilac, white, red, and black, all merged beautifully into a convincingly realistic scheme. Overall this is a really interesting and accurate figure of an intriguing animal, and an excellent price too. Good choice Safari!