This family of neotropical bats contains one genus with two species. Their common name is derived from the suction cups found on the wrists and ankles of these animals. These bats roost, head-up, inside the smooth tubes formed as young banana or heliconia leaves unfurl. The suction cups allow these bats to stick to the walls of these leaves, protected from rain and hidden from predators. Since the leaves open in a matter of a few days, groups are forced to change roosts often. Generally, the whole group moves together from the old leaf to a new one.
Thyropterids are small bats with a long and slender snout. They have no noseleaf, but they do have small warts on their noses above their nostrils. They have an abrupt "forehead," that is, the crown of their head rises abruptly above their muzzle. Their ears are moderately large and funnel-shaped, and the other edge is attached near the angle of the mouth. A tragus is present. The wing membranes of members of this family extend unusually far down their legs, arising on their feet near the base of the claws. Most individuals are reddish brown or pale brown in color on the back, and whitish or brownish on the undersurface.
The premaxillae of thyropterids are complete, and their palatal branches isolate two palatal foramina. Thyropterids lack a postorbital process. The dental formula is 2/3, 1/1, 3/3, 3/3 = 38 and the molars appear dilambdodont. There is a gap between the incisors and canines, and between the right and left incisors.
Perhaps the strangest feature of these bats is their relationship to the family Myzopodidae (the old world sucker-footed bats). Myzopodids are bats found only in the rainforests of far-off Madagascar. The myzopodids also have suction cups and roost in young, rolled leaves, but their suction cups are thought to be the result of an evolutionary convergence with the suction cups of thyropterids. Unfortunately, there is no fossil record for the thyropterids.
These bats feed exclusively on insects.
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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