Family of fruit bats / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Megabats constitute the family Pteropodidae of the order Chiroptera (bats). They are also called fruit bats, Old World fruit bats, or—especially the genera Acerodon and Pteropus—flying foxes. They are the only member of the superfamily Pteropodoidea, which is one of two superfamilies in the suborder Yinpterochiroptera. Internal divisions of Pteropodidae have varied since subfamilies were first proposed in 1917. From three subfamilies in the 1917 classification, six are now recognized, along with various tribes. As of 2018, 197 species of megabat had been described.
|Megabat species of different subfamilies; from top-left, clockwise: Greater short-nosed fruit bat, Indian flying fox, straw-coloured fruit bat, Egyptian fruit bat.|
|Distribution of megabats|
Pteropidae (Gray, 1821)
The leading theory of the evolution of megabats has been determined primarily by genetic data, as the fossil record for this family is the most fragmented of all bats. They likely evolved in Australasia, with the common ancestor of all living pteropodids existing approximately 31 million years ago. Many of their lineages probably originated in Melanesia, then dispersed over time to mainland Asia, the Mediterranean, and Africa. Today, they are found in tropical and subtropical areas of Eurasia, Africa, and Oceania.
The megabat family contains the largest bat species, with individuals of some species weighing up to 1.45 kg (3.2 lb) and having wingspans up to 1.7 m (5.6 ft). Not all megabats are large-bodied; nearly a third of all species weigh less than 50 g (1.8 oz). They can be differentiated from other bats due to their dog-like faces, clawed second digits, and reduced uropatagium. Only members of one genus, Notopteris, have tails. Megabats have several adaptations for flight, including rapid oxygen consumption, the ability to sustain heart rates of more than 700 beats per minute, and large lung volumes.
Most megabats are nocturnal or crepuscular, although a few species are active during the daytime. During the period of inactivity, they roost in trees or caves. Members of some species roost alone, while others form colonies of up to a million individuals. During the period of activity, they use flight to travel to food resources. With few exceptions, they are unable to echolocate, relying instead on keen senses of sight and smell to navigate and locate food. Most species are primarily frugivorous and several are nectarivorous. Other less common food resources include leaves, pollen, twigs, and bark.
They reach sexual maturity slowly and have a low reproductive output. Most species have one offspring at a time after a pregnancy of four to six months. This low reproductive output means that after a population loss their numbers are slow to rebound. A quarter of all species are listed as threatened, mainly due to habitat destruction and overhunting. Megabats are a popular food source in some areas, leading to population declines and extinction. They are also of interest to those involved in public health as they are natural reservoirs of several viruses that can affect humans.