Ornithocheiridae is a group of pterosaurs within the suborder Pterodactyloidea. They were among the last pterosaurs to possess teeth.

Temporal range: Early-Late Cretaceous,
Tropeognathus mesembrinus MN 01
Restored skeleton of Tropeognathus mesembrinus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Pterosauria
Suborder: Pterodactyloidea
Clade: Ornithocheirae
Family: Ornithocheiridae
Seeley, 1870
Type species
Pterodactylus simus
Owen, 1861


  1. ^ Rodrigues, T. and Kellner, A.W.A. (2008). "Review of the pterodactyloid pterosaur Coloborhynchus." Pp. 219–228 in: Hone, D.W.E. and Buffetaut, E. (eds), Flugsaurier: pterosaur papers in honour of Peter Wellnhofer. Zitteliana B, 28.
1874 in paleontology

Paleontology or palaeontology (from Greek: paleo, "ancient"; ontos, "being"; and logos, "knowledge") is the study of prehistoric life forms on Earth through the examination of plant and animal fossils. This includes the study of body fossils, tracks (ichnites), burrows, cast-off parts, fossilised feces (coprolites), palynomorphs and chemical residues. Because humans have encountered fossils for millennia, paleontology has a long history both before and after becoming formalized as a science. This article records significant discoveries and events related to paleontology that occurred or were published in the year 1874.

Anhanguera (pterosaur)

Anhanguera (meaning "old devil", Portuguese pronunciation) is a genus of pterodactyloid pterosaur known from the Early Cretaceous (Albian age, 112 Ma) Romualdo Formation of Brazil. This pterosaur is closely related to Ornithocheirus, and belongs in the family Ornithocheiridae within its own subfamily, Anhanguerinae.

Anhanguera piscator

Anhanguera piscator (meaning "fishing old devil") is a species of pterosaur known from the Early Cretaceous (Albian age, 112Ma) Santana Formation of Brazil. This pterosaur is closely related to Ornithocheirus, and belongs in the family Ornithocheiridae within its own subfamily, Anhanguerinae. A. piscator has also been classified in the genus Coloborhynchus as Coloborhynchus piscator or as a synonym of Coloborhynchus robustus.

Apón Formation

The Apón Formation is a geological formation in northwestern Venezuela (Maracaibo Basin) and northern Colombia (La Guajira), whose thick-bedded limestone interbedded with subordinate amounts of dark gray calcareous shale and sandy shale strata date back to the Early Cretaceous (Late Aptian epoch). Pterosaur remains of Ornithocheiridae indet. (= ?Anhangueridae indet.) are among the fossils that have been recovered from the formation.


Araripesaurus was a pterosaur, belonging to the Pterodactyloidea, from the Santana Formation of Brazil, dating from the Early Cretaceous.

The genus was named in 1971 by Brazilian paleontologist Llewellyn Ivor Price. The type species is Araripesaurus castilhoi. The genus name refers to the Araripe Plateau. The specific name honours the collector Moacir Marques de Castilho, who in 1966 donated the chalk nodule containing the fossil. The holotype, DNPM (DGM 529-R), consists of a partial wing, including distal fragments of the radius and ulna, carpals, all metacarpals and several digits. The specimen was a subadult. Its wing span was estimated at 2.2 metres. Two other possible specimens are known; both consist of wing fragments and are roughly a third larger than the holotype, and were referred to the genus by Price.

Price placed Araripesaurus in the Ornithocheiridae. Araripesaurus was the first pterosaur known from the Santana Formation. Later other species were named from more complete remains and this raised the question whether they could be identical to Araripesaurus. In 1991 researcher Alexander Kellner concluded that Araripesaurus was identical to Santanadactylus and that due to a lack of distinguishing features it could only be more generally classified as a pterodactyloid. In 2000 Kellner reassessed the genus and concluded that precisely because of such a lack of autapomorphies (unique characters), it could not be synonymised with Santanadactylus and gave its position after a cladistic analysis as close to Anhangueridae, more derived than Istiodactylus. Kellner also indicated that Araripesaurus resembled Anhanguera piscator in morphology, albeit considerably smaller.

In 1985 Peter Wellnhofer has named a second species, Araripesaurus santanae; this and two unnamed Araripesaurus sp. indicated by Wellhofer, were in 1990 by Kellner moved to Anhanguera as Anhanguera santanae.


Arthurdactylus is a genus of pterodactyloid pterosaur from the Early Cretaceous Santana Formation of northeastern Brazil. It was a large animal, with a wingspan of 4.6 metres (15 ft).

It was in 1994 named by Eberhard Frey and David Martill in honor of Arthur Conan Doyle, who featured large reptilian pterosaurs in his novel The Lost World, about a professor finding prehistoric animals still alive on a plateau in South-America. They first spelled the species name as Arthurdactylus conan-doylei, thus with a forbidden diacritic sign, and themselves carried out the necessary emendation to conandoylei in 1998. The holotype is SMNK 1132 PAL, a reasonably complete skeleton, lacking only a skull, neck, sternum and some caudal vertebrae. The specimen, adult or nearly so, was preserved on a plate and is slightly crushed. Arthurdactylus had, compared to the torso length of 22 centimetres, relatively long wings and especially long wing fingers, perhaps much more so than any other pterodactyloid. The hind limbs are however, weakly developed.

The describers assigned Arthurdactylus to the Ornithocheiridae. According to Brazilian paleontologist Alexander Kellner, who uses this concept in a different sense, Arthurdactylus can be best indicated as closely related to the Anhangueridae.


Barbosania is an extinct genus of crestless ornithocheirid pterosaur from the Cretaceous Romualdo Member of the Santana Formation of northeastern Brazil, dating to the Aptian to Albian.


The Barremian is an age in the geologic timescale (or a chronostratigraphic stage) between 129.4 ± 1.5 Ma (million years ago) and 125.0 ± 1.0 Ma). It is a subdivision of the Early Cretaceous epoch (or Lower Cretaceous series). It is preceded by the Hauterivian and followed by the Aptian stage.


Brasileodactylus a genus of pterosaur from the Aptian (Early Cretaceous), Lower Santana formation of Chapada do Araripe, Ceará, Brazil.

The genus was named by paleontologist Alexander Wilhelm Armin Kellner in 1984. The genus name means 'pterosaur (literally, [wing] "finger") from Brazil'. The type species is Brasileodactylus araripensis. The specific name refers to the Araripe Plateau. The holotype, MN 4804-V, is the front part of a mandible.

Later remains referred to Brasileodactylus include SMNS 55414, a mandible, and MN 4797–V, the front of a snout and mandible. More complete fossils are BSP 1991 I 27, a fragmentary skeleton, and AMNH 24444, a 429 mm (16.9 in) long skull, with mandible and proximal left wing. The last two specimens have been assigned to a Brasileodactylus sp. indet. by André Jacques Veldmeijer. However, some of the more complete specimens may belong to other pterosaurs, such as Barbosania.Kellner first assigned Brasileodactylus to the Ornithocheiridae. In 1991 he changed that to a more cautious Pterodactyloidea incertae sedis. In 2000 he affirmed a close affinity to the Anhangueridae. David Unwin in 2001 considered the form part of Anhanguera but later retracted. Eberhard Frey in 2003 thought it was a species of Coloborhynchus. In 2007 Unwin and David Martill suggested Ludodactylus was a junior synonym of Brasileodactylus.

Brasileodactylus was a medium sized pterosaur with a wingspan of approximately 4 m (13 ft). It had a long pointed snout and conical teeth that in the extreme front of the jaws were long, thin and forward pointing. Unlike some other Brazilian pterosaurs it had no crest on the snout or lower jaw but might have had one on the back of the skull.


Caulkicephalus is a genus of Ornithocheirid pterosaur, from the Isle of Wight off the coast of England.


Coloborhynchus is a genus in the pterosaur family Ornithocheiridae, and is known from the Lower Cretaceous of England (Valanginian age, 140-136 million years ago), and depending on which species are included, possibly the Albian and Cenomanian ages (113-93.9 million years ago) as well. It is the largest known toothed pterosaur.


Haopterus is a ornithocheiroid pterodactyloid pterosaur genus from the Barremian-Aptian-age Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Liaoning, China.


Ludodactylus was a genus of pterodactyloid pterosaurs from the Early Cretaceous (Aptian) Crato Formation of the Araripe Basin in Ceará, Brazil. The genus was named by Eberhard Frey et al. in 2003 and contains one known species, Ludodactylus sibbicki. The name is derived from Latin ludus, "play" and Greek daktylos, "finger". Ludus refers to the fact, long lamented by paleontologists, that many toy pterosaurs combined teeth with a Pteranodon-like head crest, while no such creature was known to exist — however Ludodactylus shows exactly this combination of features. "Dactylus", in reference to the characteristic long wing finger, has been a common element in the names of pterosaurs since the first known was named Pterodactylus. The specific name "sibbicki" is an homage to the paleoartist John Sibbick.


The Monofenestrata are an unranked group of pterosaurs that includes the family Wukongopteridae and the suborder Pterodactyloidea.The clade Monofenestrata was in 2009/2010 defined as the group consisting of Pterodactylus and all species sharing with Pterodactylus the synapomorphy, shared derived trait, of an external nostril confluent with the antorbital fenestra, the major skull opening on the side of the snout. The name is derived from Greek monos, "single", and Latin fenestra, "window". The concept was inspired by the discovery of Darwinopterus, a species combining a pterodactyloid-type skull with a more basal build of the remainder of the body. The Darwinoptera, a primitive subgroup of monofenestratans showing this transitional anatomy, was also named for Darwinopterus and defined as all descendants of its common ancestor with Pterorhynchus.The earliest known monofenestrate fossils have been found in the Stonesfield Slate formation of the United Kingdom, which dates to the Bathonian stage of the Middle Jurassic, dated to about 166 million years ago. Identified elements include cervical vertebrae, fourth metacarpals and a possible pterodactyloid synsacrum. Below is a cladogram showing the results of a phylogenetic analysis presented by Andres, Clark & Xu, 2014. This study found the two traditional groupings of ctenochasmatoids and kin as an early branching group, with all other pterodactyloids grouped into the Eupterodactyloidea.


Ornithocheirae is an extinct clade of pteranodontoid pterosaurs from the Early Cretaceous to the Late Cretaceous (middle Barremian to middle Campanian stages) of Asia, Europe, North America and South America. It was named by Harry Seeley in 1870 as a family that contains Ornithocheirus and its relatives. The name was emended to Ornithocheiridae, to match the requirements of the ICZN Code that a family-ranked clade should end with an -idae suffix. Brian Andres (2010, in press) in his review of pterosaur phylogeny, defined the name Ornithocheirae phylogenetically, as a node-based taxon consisting of the last common ancestor of Anhanguera and Ornithocheirus and all its descendants. Thus Ornithocheirae is defined to include two families, the Anhangueridae and the Ornithocheiridae, following the opinion of Alexander Kellner and Andres that these families should not be synonymized based on their original phylogenetical definitions.


Ornithocheiromorpha is a group of pterosaurs within the suborder Pterodactyloidea.

The Ornithocheiromorpha was defined in 2014 by Andres and colleagues. They made Ornithocheiromorpha the most inclusive clade containing Ornithocheirus but not Pteranodon.

Phylogeny of pterosaurs

This phylogeny of pterosaurs entails the various phylogenetic trees used to classify pterosaurs throughout the years and varying views of these animals. Pterosaur phylogeny is currently highly contested and several hypotheses are presented below.


Pteranodontoidea is an extinct clade of ornithocheiroid pterosaurs from the Early Cretaceous to the Late Cretaceous (middle Barremian to middle Campanian stages) of Asia, Europe, North America and South America. It was named by Alexander Wilhelm Armin Kellner in 1996. In 2003, Kellner defined the clade as a node-based taxon consisting of the last common ancestor of Anhanguera, Pteranodon and all its descendants. Ornithocheiroidea is sometimes considered to be the senior synonym of Pteranodontoidea, however its depends on it definition. Ornithocheiroidea was originally defined as an apomorphy-based taxon by Christopher Bennett in 1994. Later, Kellner (2003) redefined it to represent the node of Anhanguera, Pteranodon, Quetzalcoatlus and Dsungaripterus. Later, David Unwin (2003) suggested a different definition, the node that contains Pteranodon longiceps and Istiodactylus latidens, thus making Pteranodontoidea a junior synonym of Ornithocheiroidea. Brian Andres (2008, 2010, 2014) in his analyses, converts Ornithocheiroidea using the definition of Kellner (2003) to avoid this synonymy.


Tropeognathus is a genus of large pterosaurs from the late Early Cretaceous of South America. It was a member of the Ornithocheiridae (alternately Anhangueridae), a group of pterosaurs known for their keel-tipped snouts, and was closely related to species of the genus Anhanguera. The type and only species is Tropeognathus mesembrinus; a second species, Tropeognathus robustus, is now considered to belong to Anhanguera. Fossils of Tropeognathus have been recovered from the fossiliferous Romualdo Formation of the Araripe Basin in northeastern Brazil.


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