Yixianopterus skeleton
Holotype (?) forgery
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Pterosauria
Suborder: Pterodactyloidea
Family: Ornithocheiridae
Genus: Yixianopterus
Species: Y. jingangshanensis
Binomial name
Yixianopterus jingangshanensis
et al., 2006

Yixianopterus is an extinct genus of basal ornithocheirid from the Barremian or Aptian stage (~125 mya). The type species is Y. jingangshanensis. It had a skull length of around 20 cm.


Yixianopterus was correctly considered an ornithocheirid pterosaur like Haopterus. With a keen eye, Lü et al. (2006) reported, “The posterior portion of the skull is a forgery, which was made by glueing together some fragments to create a composite “complete” skull.”

Chinese farmers have found many fabulous fossils, but they have also made certain fossils even more fabulous by adding bones (a skull in this case) or rearranging the bones to increase its value.

Despite its roadkill appearance and lack of outstanding traits, Yixianopterus turns out to be a very important taxon because it nested at the base of the ornithocheirid family tree close to the JZMP embryo and not far from large and small basal cycnorhamphids and tiny derived scaphognathids from which it evolved.


Skeleta reconstruction of Yixianopterus

Other pterosaur workers have ignored this taxon in their phylogenetic trees — and that’s a problem.

Real fossil material[]

The real, unforged material included most of the skull and a single finger.