• J.V. Becker

The Process of Plesiosaur

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

An elasmosaurid is the next in the series of extinct ocean creatures and is a sea monster everyone knows akin to Nessie of the Lake Lochness. This is Hydrotherosaurus, a plesiosaur from the Upper Cretaceous of Fresno County, California. It's name means "water beast lizard" and it's the only known species of its kind discovered to date.

Plesiosaur swims swiftly towards an escaping orthocone as it releases a cloud of ink in its wake...

For this past month, I've been developing this leather plesiosaur and orthocone for a possible future kit -- Although after all the reference materials maybe there's not quite the evidence that this particular elasmosaurid existed at the same time as orthoceras... but... they might've. Especially since the plesiosaurs seems to begin at the same time as the orthocone ends... which makes me think these guys may have liked to eat cones!

  • Elasmosaurids- Late Triassic to Late Cretaceous

  • Orthocones- Late Cambrian to the Late Triassic

Lots of reference was collected from the start like it usually goes with these patterns... When designing this animal, the problem was not a lack of reference as with my last sculpture, but with too much. There are so many plesiosaurs out there and distinguishing the subtle difference between skull shapes and hipbones, number of vertebrae which vary widely was overwhelming at several points. I ended up designing multiple breastbones, hipbones and entire heads.

This was a challenging piece for scale as I don't like to weigh down my sculptures with excess leather where it's not needed; gravity also holds the shape and too large means drooping even with a thicker gauged hide. However, the piece's size could be resolved with pre-cutting chipboard after the draft version had been completed; then with multiple sized pieces such as the flippers, a proper size could be determined. It saves a lot of wasted material using chipboard as a second draft rather than creating new leather parts; even from scrap which can be useful later on.

Plesiosaur Vs. Orthocone

The wooden base for this sculpture was one I'd been wanting to try for awhile. I actually was intending to use this base for dunkleosteus, but used another instead which was also intended for a different sculpture. Sometimes things don't work out as planned but end up as a sort of "happy accident". This base was scaled up much larger than first vectored out, but it still gave the look I'd been hoping for which was the effect of a cracked, rocky sea floor, partially eroded away, as in places one might find like the Badlands, an actual ancient seabed where these creatures once swam.

I'm pretty glad about the orthocone's squid effect of spraying ink (which is suggested in the wood-cut) as it's approached by the hungry plesiosaur. Although, that's speculation; whether or not these creatures released ink as a defense mechanism is hard to say with little to no evidence remaining in the fossil record aside from their shells.

Between the newest cephalopods, and trying out minimal stitching and the addition of suede in non-skeletal parts and in chevron bones beneath the caudal vertebrae, I'm hoping to continue adding detail in a way that retains the clean lines and simplicity of these models. The engraving around the skull and sometimes other areas is still in somewhat of an experimental stage... I guess it does add to the figure, but I do feel these new models -if they are eventually made into kits- are going to be on a new level of their own when compared to the first four Skelosaurz kits. I guess we'll see where it all goes.

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