Published just a week or so ago, Fenghuangopterus is the latest in a long line of Chinese pterosaurs. Obviously new species in all groups are being described all the time but pterosaurs have certainly had quite a boost in the last few months with half a dozen new taxa being named. Given that there are still under 150 pterosaurs known (after over 200 years of research) more than 1 a month for any sustained period of time is quite something. Fenghuangopterus (skull shown above) is represented by a single nearly complete specimen that it’s rather crushed. I’ve actually taken a quick look at it this morning and it’s a much better specimen that the photos would suggest (the contrast here is not too good and the only images I have, while I’m permitted to use them, have a CAGS stamp on the body).
This is a scaphognathine pterosaurs (which also include things like Scaphognathus and Sordes) making it one of the rhamphorhynchoids. It’s the earliest known too, coming from Middle Jurassic beds and so extending the range of the scaphognathines back from the Upper Jurassic. More and more specimens are coming out of these beds and like the Middle Jurassic dinosaurs of western China are filling a long empty gap in our knowledge of this time for fossil reptiles. There will surely be more to come on this. This is a very short preliminary description so I can’t say much more without just repeating the content of the paper and describing the bones so I’ll leave it there.
Lu, J., Fucha, X. & Chen, J. 2010. A new scaphognathine pterosaur from the Middle Jurassic of western Liaoning, China. Acta Geoscientica Sinica, 2010: 263-266.