Bats of the genus Pteropus, belonging to the megabat suborder, Megachiroptera, are the largest bats in the world. They are commonly known as the fruit bats or flying foxes among other colloquial names. They live in the tropics and subtropics of Asia (including the Indian subcontinent), Australia, East Africa, and a number of remote oceanic islands in both the Indian and Pacific Oceans. At least 60 extant species are in this genus.
The oldest ancestors of the genus Pteropus to be unearthed appear in the fossil record almost exactly as they are today, the only notable differences being early flight adaptations such as a tail for stabilizing. The oldest megachiropteran is dated about 35 million years ago, but the preceding gap in the fossil record makes their true lineage unknown.
Characteristically, all species of flying foxes only feed on nectar, blossoms, pollen, and fruit, which explains their limited tropical distribution. They do not possess echolocation, a feature which helps the other suborder of bats, the microbats, locate and catch prey such as insects in midair. Instead, smell and eyesight are very well-developed in flying foxes. Feeding ranges can reach up to 40 miles. When it locates food, the flying fox "crashes" into foliage and grabs for it. It may also attempt to catch hold of a branch with its hind feet, then swing upside down; once attached and hanging, the fox draws food to its mouth with one of its hind feet or with the clawed thumbs at the top of its wings.