Yixianopterus jingangshanensis JZMP-V12 (Lü et al. 2006) ~20 cm skull length, Barremian/Aptian Early Cretaceous ~125 mya, 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.
Surprised to see I haven’t featured this specimen earlier.
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. See the pterosaur family tree here.
Other pterosaur workers have apparently ignored this taxon in their phylogenetic trees — and that’s a problem. As I’ve said on many occasions, these plain-looking roadkill fossils are the ones that open most of the doors that answer the mysteries of paleontology. They should not be overlooked.
Lü J, Ji S, Yuan C, Gao Y, Sun Z and Ji Q 2006. New pterodactyloid pterosaur from the Lower Cretaceous Yixian Formation of Western Liaoning. In J. Lü, Y. Kobayashi, D. Huang, Y.-N. Lee (eds.), Papers from the 2005 Heyuan International Dinosaur Symposium. Geological Publishing House, Beijing 195-203.