|Range||Northern Africa and Southeast Asia|
Fruit bats are nicknamed Megabats for their larger weight and size; the largest, the great flying fox (Pteropus neohibernicus) weighs up to 1.45 kg (3.2 lb), with wingspans reaching up to 1.7 m (5.6 ft). Despite the fact that body size was a defining characteristic that Dobson used to separate microbats and megabats, not all species of megabat are larger than microbats; the spotted-winged fruit bat (Balionycteris maculata), a megabat, weighs only 14.2 g (0.50 oz). The flying foxes of Pteropus and Acerodon are often taken as exemplars of the whole family in terms of body size. In reality, these genera are outliers, creating a misconception of the true size of most megabat species. A 2004 review stated that 28% of megabat species weigh less than 50 g (1.8 oz).
Megabats can be distinguished from microbats in appearance by their dog-like faces, by the presence of claws on the second digit, and by their simple ears. The simple appearance of the ear is due in part to the lack of tragi (cartilage flaps projecting in front of the ear canal), which are found in many microbat species. Megabats of the genus Nyctimene appear less dog-like, with shorter faces and tubular nostrils. A 2011 study of 167 megabat species found that while the majority (63%) have fur that is a uniform color, other patterns are seen in this family. These include countershading in four percent of species, a neck band or mantle in five percent of species, stripes in ten percent of species, and spots in nineteen percent of species.
Unlike microbats, megabats have a greatly reduced uropatagium, which is an expanse of flight membrane that runs between the hind limbs. Additionally, the tail is absent or greatly reduced, with the exception of Notopteris species, which have a long tail. Most megabat wings insert laterally (attach to the body directly at the sides). In Dobsonia species, the wings attach nearer the spine, giving them the common name of "bare-backed" or "naked-backed" fruit bats.
Most fruit bats are primarily frugivorous. Throughout the family, a diverse array of fruit is consumed from nearly 188 plant genera. Some species are also nectarivorous, meaning that they also drink nectar from flowers. In Australia, Eucalyptus flowers are an especially important food source. Other food resources include leaves, shoots, buds, pollen, seed pods, sap, cones, bark, and twigs. They are prodigious eaters and can consume up to 2.5 times their own body weight in fruit per night.