World’s Largest Bat Species Is the Size of a Human Child

In 2020, Twitter user @AlexJoestar622 set the internet on fire when he posted a photo of what looked like a human-size bat in the Philippines. While many were quick to call the photo fake, it's since been confirmed to be real and shows a giant golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatus). Also known as a golden-capped fruit bat, this endangered species is one of the largest bats in the world and is endemic to the Philippines. Classified as a megabat, these flying foxes can weigh up to three pounds with a wingspan of up to five and a half feet.

While the Twitter photo isn't fake, it does make the bat appear a bit larger than it really is. That's due to forced perspective, which is a common illusion used in photography. Often used in fantasy films to play with our idea of scale, this technique can make objects appear larger by placing them closer to the camera. So while the bat seems frighteningly large on Twitter, it's not quite that big.

Still, anyone would probably jump if they turned the corner and saw this bat snoozing in their garage. Luckily, giant golden-crowned flying foxes really have no interest in humans. Their diet primarily consists of figs and leaves. As with most bats, they go out foraging at night and then sleep during the day. They can live anywhere from 10 to 30 years in the wild. Little is known about their reproduction, except that females give birth to one pup at a time. It's also suspected that they only have one litter a year.

Given their size, it would likely take a large predator to take down this flying fox. In fact, its main predators are large birds of prey like eagles. They are also hunted by reticulated pythons and, unfortunately, humans who use them for their bushmeat. This act, as well as deforestation, are two of the biggest challenges that the giant golden-crowned flying fox faces.

The giant golden-crowned flying fox was placed on the IUCN Red List in 2016 due to its declining population numbers. It's estimated that in the late 1800s, there were mixed colonies of up to 100,000 bats. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the rough population estimate for these bats is 10,000 to 20,000 as of 2012. And, thanks to the work of the Bat Count Project, it was found that many of the existing mixed colonies—which are much smaller than in the past—don't include the species at all.

When they were first scientifically described in 1831, these bats were actually broken into three subspecies. One of these subspecies, A. jubatus lucifer, is already extinct. So it's more important than ever that we take care of the remaining subspecies.

All bat species are critical for our ecosystem, as they not only help pesky insect populations but are also important seed spreaders and plant pollinators. So while you might not be happy to see this giant bat hanging around your house, in general, bats should be a welcome sign of a healthy ecosystem.

The internet went wild in 2020 when a man in the Philippines posted a photo of an enormous bat hanging out in his garage.

Viral Photo of a Golden Crowned Flying Fox in the Philippines

Photo: AlexJoestar622 via Twitter

While some thought it was fake, the photo shows a giant golden-crowned flying fox, which is one of the world's largest bat species.

Close Up Portrait of fa Golden-Capped Fruit Bat

Photo: Gregg Yan via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

It has a wingspan of up to five and a half feet.

Golden-capped Fruit Bat Flying in the Sky

Photo: Luke Marcos Imbong via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Though forced perspective makes it seem larger, this fruit-eating bat really is the size of a small child.

Acerodon jubatus Hanging Upsidedown Next to a Man

Photo: jenesuisquncon via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Also known as a golden-capped fruit bat, the species has been listed as endangered since 2016.

Two Golden Crowned Flying Foxes Roosting in a Tree

Photo: Len Worthington via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Golden Crowned Flying Fox Roosting in a Tree

Photo: Len Worthington via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

h/t: [LADbible]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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