The Araripe Basin in the northeastern Brazilian states of Ceará and Pernambuco preserves a treasure trove of well-preserved pterosaurs that lived near the shore of an ancient sea. Maaradactylus is known from a single incomplete skull that was discovered in Lower Cretaceous rocks of the Santana Formation in Ceará. It was described by Renan Bantim and colleagues in 2014, and joins a growing list of pterosaur taxa known from the area.
The skull is very long with a snout that tapers for most of the skull's length of roughly 75 cm (2.5 feet). The tips of the snout bears a large semi-circular crest, and although the lower jaw was not recovered, it's likely there was a matching crest on the chin. The jaws contain a large number tooth sockets, although all of the teeth in the specimen are missing or eroded. Many teeth were quite large, with the largest concentrated near the end of the snout. Although only known from a skull, comparison to similar taxa suggests a wingspan of about 4.5 meters (15 feet).
Bantim and colleagues found Maaradactylus to be an anhanguerine ornithocheirid, most closely related to the contemporary taxa Anhanguera and Tropeognathus. There are seven anhanguerines including Maaradactylus from the Araripe Basin that can be distinguished by details of their teeth and crests. Ornithocheirids are most closely related to istiodactylids, pteranodontids, and nyctosaurids, which are all part of a group called ornithocheroids.
All known ornithocheiroids were ocean-going fish eaters that lived around the world in the Cretaceous. They had short tails, long, narrow wings, and somewhat short necks. Many ornithocheiroids, like Maaradactylus, have long, narrow teeth that they used to grasp fish just below the surface of the water.