This Bizarre Creature Flew Its Babies Like Kites
In a first for arthropods, the spiny animal kept its brood tethered to its body as it swam Earth’s seas 430 million years ago.
Parents have all sorts of ways of keeping tabs on their offspring. But an ancient invertebrate found in the rocks of England had a particularly unusual trick: Babies of these spiky aquatic creatures were literally tied to their parents like swarms of tiny kites.
Yale University paleontologist Derek Briggs and his colleagues named the new species Aquilonifer spinosus, or “the spiny kite bearer,” in honor of its pointy appearance and as a reference to Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner.
The paleontologists were initially preparing a 3D model of just the adult fossil, an arthropod that swam around what is now the United Kingdom about 430 million years ago. Arthropods are segmented animals with jointed appendages, such as insects, spiders, and