The Rhinolophidae is a large family of bats, including approximately 130 species grouped in 10 genera. It is sometimes divided into two families, the Rhinolophidae (horse-shoe bats) and Hipposideridae (Old World leaf-nosed bats). There is little question that these two groups of bats are closely related, but current practise is to classify them as subfamilies (Hipposiderinae and Rhinolophinae) in a single family. Many species are extremely difficult to distinguish.
All rhinolophids have leaf-like protuberances on their noses. In hipposiderine species, these take the shape of a horseshoe; in rhinolophines, they are leaf- or spear-like. Echolocation calls are emitted through these structures, which may serve to focus the sound. The ears of these bats vary in size and lack a tragus. Most rhinolophids are dull brown or reddish brown in color. They vary in size from small to moderately large.
Rhinolophids have distinctive premaxillae, with palatal branches only. The premaxillae on opposite sides of the skull are neither fused with each other nor are they fused with the maxillary bones. Rhinolophid skulls often have distinct sagittal and lambdoidal crests. The palate is unusually short due to deep indentations at both ends. The molars are dilambdodont, and the dental formula is 1/2, 1/1, 1-2/2-3, 3/3 = 28-32.
Rhinolophids inhabit temperate and tropical regions of southern Europe, Africa, and Asia south to northern and eastern Australia, including many Pacific islands. All species are insectivorous, hawking insects in flight. Their roost habits are diverse; some species are found in large colonies in caves, some prefer hollow trees, and others sleep in the open, among the branches of trees. Members of northern populations may hibernate during the winter; at least one species is migratory. Like many vespertilionid bats, females of some rhinolophid species mate during the fall and store the sperm over the winter, conceiving and gestating young beginning in the spring.
The earliest rhinolophids in the fossil record are known from the Middle Eocene.
eastern horse shoe bat
greater horseshoe bat
horse shoe bat
leaf nosed bat
lesser horse shoe bat
Family Pteropodidae (Old World fruit-eating bats)
Family Rhinopomatidae (long-tailed or mouse-tailed bats) Family Craseonycteridae (bumblebee bat) Family Emballonuridae (sac-winged or sheath-tailed bats) Family Nycteridae (slit-faced or hollow-faced bats) Family Megadermatidae (false vampire bats) Family Rhinolophidae (horseshoe bats or Old-World leaf-nosed bats) Family Noctilionidae (bull-dog or mastiff bats) Family Mormoopidae (naked-backed bats) Family Phyllostomidae (New World leaf-nosed bats) Family Natalidae (funnel-eared or long legged bats) Family Furipteridae (smoky or thumbless bats) Family Thyropteridae (disc-winged bats) Family Myzopodidae (old world sucker-footed bats) Family Vespertilionidae (evening bats) Family Mystacinidae (New Zealand short-tailed bats) Family Molossidae (free-tailed bats)
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