From the Aptian Stage of the Early Cretaceous, Chaoyangopterus zhangi (named by Wang and Zhou in 2002) is the founder genus of the family Chaoyangopteridae. The genus is based on a holotype of the front of the skull, limb bones and much of the axial skeleton. These are related to the more famous Azhdarchidae, with a similar body plan of massive heads, short wings and small torsos.
Together with them, dsungaripterids and thalassodromids, the Chaoyangopteridae is part of Neoazhdarchia.
The remains come from the famous Jiufotang Formation dated about 120 million years ago, in Liaoning Province. The Jiufotang preserves a somewhat swampy environment unlike the other famous Chinese Early Cretaceous bed, the Yixian which preserves lakeside forests.
Some other fossils from Jiufotang include a few Yixian taxa. They include the ever-present horned dinosaur Psittacosaurus and numerous avians. A more uniquely Jiufotang genus is the famous gliding dromaeosaur Microraptor.
Pterosaurs are also quite diverse, falling into many niches. Chaoyangopterus was just one of these.
It might have been a terrestrial hunter like the azhdarchids. Its wingspan has been estimated at 1.8 meters, relatively small for a Cretaceous pterosaur.