In 2015 Linlongopterus jennyae was named by paleontologists Taissa Rodrigues and colleagues. The species is based on a single skull and mandible found the Lower Cretaceous Jiufotang Formation in Liaoning Province, China. The name genus is derived from the Chinese words “lin” and “long” meaning “forest dragon” and the Greek word “pteros” meaning “wing.” The species name honors Elfriede “Jenny” Kellner.
The skull of the Linlongopterus is missing most of the rear portion including the braincase, temporal fenestra, and orbits, but includes portions of the palate and cheek region. Overall, the skull is somewhat robust, with a long and tapering rostrum without any crests seen in many other ornithocheirids. The teeth are stout, gently curving cones. There are at least eleven pairs of teeth in the upper jaws, and they are restricted to the front half of the jaws. The mandible is also somewhat robust, bearing at least ten pairs of teeth restricted to the front half of the jaws. When complete, the skull’s length would have been approximately 45 cm (18 inches).
Nothing is known of the rest of the skeleton of Linlongopterus. Other ornithocheirids have extremely long and narrow wings and short legs, ideally suited to soaring long distances. Comparison to other ornithocheirids suggests a wingspan of 2.5 to 3.0 meters (8-10 feet).
Ornithocheirids were aerial fishers that plucked prey from near the surface of the water. It seems likely that Linlongopterus did the same in the lakes and rivers that formed the Jiufotang Formation, about 120 million years ago.