Volume 7, Issue 4, Winter 1989

ON THE COVER. 1989-90


Hammer-headed bats (Hypsignathus monstrosus) are Africa's largest and perhaps most
unusual bats. Sometimes described as a "music box on wings," the hammer-headed bat's facial
structure is specialized to resonate noise from its equally specialized vocal cords. Adult males,
whose heads are greatly enlarged, sing loudly for a mate at special gathering places called
"lecks."

Calling starts shortly after dark with almost continuous singing for the first three or four hours of
the night. Females select mates based on their singing and display, which consists of a
characteristic fluttering of the wings. The bat shown here is an adult female. These rain forest
bats are important seed dispersers. PHOTO BY MERLIN D. TUTTLE

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