Megabat

From Academic Kids

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Kalong-drawing.jpg
Large flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus)

Megabats constitute the suborder Megachiroptera within the order Chiroptera (bats). They include the single family Pteropodidae. Often they are called fruit bats or Old World fruit bats.

While the microbats are distributed over all continents (excluding Antarctica), the megabats live only in tropical areas of Asia, Africa and Oceania.

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Flying_foxes.jpg
Fox Island, Australia, is the largest colony of flying foxes on the continent

Not all megabats are large: The smallest species is just 6 cm long and thus smaller than some microbats. But the gigantic flying foxes are 40 cm long and have a wingspan of 150 cm. These giants are almost 1 kg in weight. Most megabats have large eyes enabling them to orient in the twilight and inside lightless caves. The sense of smell is excellent as well. In contrast to the microbats the megabats don't use echolocation though one species is the exception, the Egyptian fruit bat Rousettus egyptiacus which used high pitched clicks to navigate in caves.

Megabats are herbivorous. They either eat fruits or suck nectar from blossoms. Often the fruits are squashed, and only the fruit juice is consumed. The teeth are adapted to bite through hard fruit skins. Large megabats have to land in order to eat the fruits, while the smaller species are able to stand with flapping wings in front of a blossom or fruit.

All megabats help in the distribution of plants by carrying the fruits with them and spitting the seeds at other places. The nectar-sucking bats pollinate the visited plants. They have a long tongue, that can be inserted into the blossom. The pollen is taken to the next blossom, which will be pollinated. This relationship between plants and bats is called chiropterophily. Examples are the monkey-bread trees of the genus Adansonia and the sausage tree (Kigelia).

Classification

The family Pteropodidae is divided into two subfamilies, 42 genera and 173 species. Here is a list of the genera:

External links

de:Flughunde fr:Pteropodidae id:Kalong nl:Grote vleermuizen ja:オオコウモリ亜目 pl:Megachiroptera

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