We’ve all seen children tethered to their parents or to each other (usually during a day care outing). Well it turns out there may be prehistoric origins to kid-corralling.
Called a “Kite Runner,” scientists at Oxford and Yale Universities published their discovery of the bizarre creature this week. It lived about 430 million years ago and carried its young around “in capsules tethered to [its] body like tiny, swirling kites.”
The ancient animal’s scientific name is Aquilonifer spinosus.
“We have named it after the novel by Khalid Hosseini due to the fancied resemblance of the juveniles to kites,” explained Yale paleontologist and lead author Derek Briggs in a statement.
“As the parent moved around, the juveniles would have looked like decorations or kites attached to it.”
Illustration of the “Kite Runner” by D. Briggs, D. Siveter, D. Siveter, M. Sutton, and D. Legg YaleNews
Illustration of the “Kite Runner” by D. Briggs, D. Siveter, D. Siveter, M. Sutton, and D. Legg
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Briggs added there are no modern crustaceans that carry their young this way. Instead they employ strategies to protect their eggs and embryos from predators — like attaching them to limbs, or enclosing them within a special pouch until they are old enough to be released.
There’s only one known fossil of the animal, which was found in Herefordshire, England.
READ MORE: Meet the pangolin, a prehistoric creature being hunted into extinction
Scientists believe it lived on the sea floor during the Silurian period with a wack of other creatures including: sponges, worms, snails and other mollusks, a sea spider, a horseshoe crab, various shrimp-like creatures and a sea star.