Named By: Giuseppe Leonardi & Guido Borgomanero - 1985.
Classification: Chordata, Reptilia, Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea, Ornithocheiridae.
Species: C. atrox (type).
Size: Estimated between 4 and 5.5 meter wingspan. Skull is 57 centimetres long.
Known locations: Brazil - Santana Formation.
Time period: Albian of the Cretaceous.
Fossil representation: Single skull.
holotype specimen of Cearadactylus was not dug out
of the ground by a dedicated research
team, but was instead purchased from fossil dealers in Italy in 1983.
Unfortunately these fossil dealers made several mistakes in rebuilding
the fossil, including mistaking the front of the lower jaw for the
snout and setting it upside down and enlarging the teeth.
When the skull was reconstructed properly by the National Museum of Brazil, the teeth were found to have formed a smaller 'rosette' for prey capture than the previous reconstruction. Also the presence of a crest on the snout was also clearly established leading to Cearadactylus being placed with the ornithocheiridae.
Because only the skull is known, the wingspan for Cearadactylus has had to be estimated by proportional comparison to other more complete pterosaurs of the group. However the methods of comparison can vary as well as being interpreted differently by different researchers.
A second skull was once attributed to Cearadactylus under the species name Cearadactylus ligabuei, but again fossil traders incorrectly reconstructed the material. Because the skull is composed of two main parts, many have questioned it the parts are actually from the same species. Subsequent study of this skull has seen it assigned to Anhanguera and Coloborhynchus by different researchers.