The Middle Jurassic Great Oolite Group of central southern England was one of the first locations outside of Germany to yield pterosaur fossils, although they were largely isolated and fragmentary bones. They first were found in the early 19th century, and came from the Stonesfield Slate, a source of easily parting limestones used for tiles since the Middle Ages.
Initially, many of these specimens were named as additional species of the German genera Pterodactylus and Rhamphorhynchus, which was common practice at the time. In 1880, Harry Govier Seeley named a new genus and species, Rhamphocephalus prestwichi, for a partial skull whose overall anatomy was similar to crocodilians. He considered it a pterosaur, however, because of its thin-walled bones. Later in the 19th century almost all pterosaur specimens from the Great Oolite Group were referred to Rhamphocephalus, which came to house several species throughout the 20th century.
In a 2018 review of the pterosaurs from the Stonesfield Slate, Michael O’Sullivan and Dave Martill found that the original specimen of Rhamphocephalus prestwichi not only looked like a crocodilian, it was actually from a crocodilian and not a pterosaur. They also found that the other specimens assigned to different species of Rhamphocephalus were indeed pterosaurs, but most were not diagnostic beyond family.
Two specimens were found to be diagnostic, however. They include a partial mandible and a partial mandibular symphysis from a rhamphorhynchid, which they named Klobiodon rochei. The genus name translates to “small cage tooth” in Greek, a reference to the interlocking teeth used by rhamphorhynchids to trap fish. The species name honors comic book artist Nick Roche, whose art often included accurate depictions of dinosaurs.
The more complete specimen is about 14 cm (5 1/2 inches) long, but is missing its front and rear portions and would have been about 18 cm (7 inches) long when complete. The upper and lower margins of the mandible are roughly parallel, and the distal end is downturned. There were four pairs of fang-like teeth in the distal portion of the jaw. They were long, procumbant, slightly recurved cones, with large gaps between each tooth position.
Nothing else is known of the rest of the skull, but rhamphorhynchids typically have complementary procumbant teeth on their upper and lower jaws that interlocked and trapped fish plucked from near the surface. Comparison to other rhamphorhynchids suggests it was a small pterosaur, with a wingspan of about 1.7-2.0 meters (5.5 - 6.5 feet).
At the time that Klobiodon lived, around 167 million years ago, central England was under a shallow tropical sea, surrounded by several low-lying islands in Wales, Cornwall, and southeastern England. The environment would have resembled modern Florida and the Bahamas. Klobiodon lived alongside several other pterosaurs not diagnostic to genus or species including rhamphorhynchine and scaphognathine rhamphorhynchids, and possibly early examples of monofenestratans and pterodactyloids.