After producing molds and casts of the preserved portions of the baleen whale “Buttercup”, and sketching out a life-sized approximation of the skull while accounting for ontogenetic changes, the next step in our reconstruction is to make a physical model. Ray is doing most of this work, using styrofoam with liberal amounts of putty. Because we actually have the back part of the skull preserved, he started there and worked his way forward. Above is the back part of the skull, sitting on the life-size drawing.
We didn’t recover any part of the rostrum, so to make a base for that Ray laid the drawing over a sheet of styrofoam and punched holes into the foam:
After attaching the rostrum with screws, it’s just a matter of adding additional foam and putty to get the three-dimensional shape. This is actually one of the most difficult steps, because it’s complicated going from a 2D drawing to a 3D model. It requires constant checking against our own drawings, published images of Diorocetus and other whales, and going out to the exhibit floor to compare our progress to “Sinistra”. There are invariably areas that need to be tweaked; at one point we actually had to remove the rostrum and reattach it at a slightly different angle. Here are some progress shots:
There’s still quite a bit of work to do, but we hope to have the completed model in about a month.