The tiny pterosaur Batrachognathus volans is known from Upper Jurassic rocks of the Karabastau Formation in the central Asian republic of Kazakhstan. The depositional environment was a warm water lagoon, similar to what's seen in similarly aged rocks of Germany's Solnhofen limestone.
Batrachoganthus volans was first described in 1948 by Soviet paleontologist Anatoly Riabinin. The name Batrachognathus comes from the Greek words for “frog jaw” and the species name, volans, Latin for “flying.”
The name references the short-faced skull with a round jaw seen in the only known specimen. Batrachognathus's delicate skull is incompletely preserved but shows that it had very large eyes set far forward and its jaws had a number of small, conical and slightly recurved teeth. The remainder of the skeleton is incompletely known, but does preserve some vertebrae, portions of the wings, and hind-limbs. Comparison of preserved elements with the same bones in similar pterosaurs shows that Batrachognathus had a wingspan of approximately 50 cm (20 inches).
Riabinin initially described Batrachognathus as being a member of the Rhamphorhynchidae, but noted strong similarities to the short-faced German genus Anurognathus (thought to be a rhamphorhynchid at the time). Subsequent research has confirmed the close relationship of Batrachognathus and Anurognathus as members of the Anurognathidae. Batrachognathus itself appears to be most closely related to the Middle Jurassic Chinese genera Dendrorhynchoides and Jeholopterus. All known anurognathids have short faces and those with preserved hindquarters show that they have short tails.
Batrachognathus, like other anurognathids, is thought to have been an aerial insect hunter. They all share a number of adaptations for swift and acrobatic flight and likely pursued insects on the wing like bats, swifts, nightjars, and swallows. Well-preserved anurognathid specimens show that at least some species had long whisker-like filaments around their mouth, similar to what is found in nightjars.