, Volume 95, Issue 9, pp 891–897 | Cite as

A new azhdarchoid pterosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China and its implications for pterosaur phylogeny and evolution

  • Junchang LüEmail author
  • David M. Unwin
  • Li Xu
  • Xingliao Zhang
Short Communication


Toothless pterosaurs played a key role in broadening the taxonomic, morphological and ecological diversity of Cretaceous pterosaurs. Here we report a complete, articulated skeleton of a 1.4-m-wingspan pterosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation of Liaoning Province, China which is identified as a new genus and species, Shenzhoupterus chaoyangensis gen. et sp. nov. The new taxon is edentulous, with a relatively large skull and a remarkably large, tall nasoantorbital fenestra that extends well above the main part of the braincase. Phylogenetic analysis shows that Shenzhoupterus gen. nov. belongs in a distinct clade of azhdarchoid pterosaurs, formally recognised here as a new family, Chaoyangopteridae, that also includes Chaoyangopterus, Jidapterus and Eoazhdarcho from the Jiufotang Formation and Eopteranodon from the Yixian Formation. These new data clarify recent confusion surrounding the systematics of these Lower Cretaceous taxa and provide new insights into the evolutionary history of pterosaurs.


Azhdarchoidea Shenzhoupterus Phylogeny Pterosaur Lower Cretaceous China 



This study was supported by grants from the National Key Basic Research and Development Program (Grant 2006CB701405) and the China Geological Survey (Grant 200413000024). David Unwin thanks Jason Dunlop, the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin and the University of Leicester for logistical support. We are very grateful to David Martill, Darren Naish, Mark Witton and three referees who provided many helpful comments that greatly improved the quality of this manuscript. We also thank Brian Andres, Chris Bennett, David Martill, Darren Naish, Mark Witton and Alex Kellner for useful discussions regarding pterosaur phylogeny and taxonomy and Mark Witton for generously providing access to his unpublished work.

Supplementary material

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Electronic supplementary material-S1 (DOC 47 kb)
114_2008_397_MOESM2_ESM.doc (324 kb)
Electronic supplementary material-S2 (DOC 332 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Junchang Lü
    • 1
    Email author
  • David M. Unwin
    • 2
  • Li Xu
    • 3
  • Xingliao Zhang
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of GeologyChinese Academy of Geological SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Museum StudiesUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  3. 3.Henan Geological MuseumZhengzhouChina

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