|Named By:||Wang & Zhou in 2003|
|Time Period:||Early Cretaceous, 120 Ma|
|Location:||China, Liaoning Province - Jiufotang formation|
|Size:||1.85 meter wingspan|
|Classification:||| Chordata | Reptilia | Pterosauria | Pterodactyloidea | Azhdarchoidea | Chaoyangopteridae ||
Chaoyangopterus is a genus of azhdarchoid pterodactyloid pterosaur known from a partial skeleton found in Liaoning, China. It was found in rocks of the Aptian-age Lower Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation of Dapingfang, Chaoyang.
The genus was named and described in 2003 by Wang Xiao-Lin and Zhou Zhong-He. The type species is Chaoyangopterus zhangi. The genus name is derived from Chaoyang and a Latinised Greek pteron, "wing". The specific name honours journalist Zhang Wanlian for his efforts in protecting fossil sites.
The genus is based on holotype IVPP V13397, which includes the front of the skull, the lower jaws, the neck vertebrae, the shoulder and pelvic girdles, and the limbs. The skull is about 270 millimeters long (10.6 inches) and toothless, and its wingspan is estimated to have been around 1.85 meters (6.07 feet). Wang and Zhou concluded that it compared most closely to Nyctosaurus and classified it as a nyctosaurid, although they found that its shin was proportionally longer compared to the femur and humerus in Chaoyangopterus, that their animal had relatively shorter wings and longer legs than Nyctosaurus, and that it still had four fingers.
The classification of Chaoyangopterus has since become unsettled, with subsequent reviewers disagreeing with the nyctosaurid assessment. David Unwin, in a popular work, included it without comment with the tapejarid family of azhdarchoid pterosaurs, known for their large head crests. A detailed phylogenetic analysis of Liaoning pterosaurs published by Junchang Lu and Qiang Ji in 2006 found it instead to be a basal azhdarchoid of no particular familial affiliation. However, subsequent analysis by Lu and Unwin found that within the Azhdarchoidea it formed a clade with several other forms such as Jidapterus and Shenzhoupterus, which they named Chaoyangopteridae.
Wang however, in 2006 stated that Chaoyangopterus was a member of the Pteranodontidae and that Jidapterus, Eoazhdarcho and Eopteranodon are subjective junior synonyms of the former.