Physical characteristics

Bats in this family vary greatly in size, from small to very large. Head and body lengths are 1.1-4.3 in (2.8-11 cm) and forearms are a similar length. One of the largest insectivorous bat species is a hipposiderid, Commerson's leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros commersoni). They are characterized by their elaborate, leaf-like nose leaves, which are composed of an anterior, horseshoe-shaped portion and a posterior portion that is often lobed. Lateral leaflets are also present in many species. These elaborate facial appendages seem to be related to their use of nasal echolocation, where nose leaves act to focus and modify emitted echolocation signals. The ears of these bats vary in size but always lack a tragus, the anterior ear appendage found in many microbats. Members of the families Hipposideridae and Rhinolophidae share a unique feature of the premaxillary bones, whereby premaxillae on either side of the skull are not fused to each other or to the maxillae. Fur coloration is generally shades of brown and red. Tail length ranges from zero (nonexistant) to 2.4 in (6 cm).

A diadem roundleaf bat (Hipposideros diadema) hanging in a rainforest. (Photo by B. G. Thomson. Reproduced by permission.)
Percival's trident-nosed bat (Cloeotis percivali) has three pointed protrusions that extend from its nose. (Photo by Brock Fenton. Reproduced by permission.)
A Commerson's leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros commersoni) roosting. (Photo by Harald Schütz. Reproduced by permission.)

Their teeth are much like those of other insectivorous bats, the dental formula is I1/2 C1/1 P1-2/2-3 M3/3.

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