(Mirror Daily, United States) – It seems that maternal instincts are not present only in intelligent creatures. A group of archaeologists unearthed a 430 million years old fossil that appears to have its babies attached to it with long, thin strings. Apparently the Kite Runner kept its younglings close, tied to its body close.
Ancient arthropods are the ancestors of modern day centipedes, millipede, insects, and crustaceans. The specimen that was recently unearthed was among the early forms of life that took the form of an arthropod. But evidence suggests that the insect ancestor had very well developed maternal instincts.
Judging by its shape and by the place where it was found, the Aquilonifer spinosus must have crawled on the bottom of a sea floor that no longer exists. And while crawling in search of food, the Kite Runner, as the archeologists dubbed it, liked to keep its younglings close nearby.
How close? Tied to its body with long, thin threads close. The unusual fossil found in Herefordshire Lagerstӓtte clearly shows a Kite Runner specimen with ten offspring attached to its body. The younglings are enclosed in small capsules shaped like tiny lemons.
Before establishing that the capsules contained the offspring of the Aquilonifer spinosus, the researchers looked into every other possibility. The first thing that crossed their mind was the possibility that the tiny creatures were actually parasites.
But they soon crossed out the option because The Kite Runner has long frontal limbs that could easily have removed the thin strings that attached the creatures to its body. Also, the line was too long and thin for it to be a means through which the supposed parasites fed.
Furthermore, upon close analysis, the team of researchers discovered that the creatures from the capsules were smaller versions of the Kite Runner. This meant that the only plausible explanation for their presence was the fact that the Kite Runner kept its younglings close.
From what the researchers gathered, the Aquilonifer spinosus probably used its long front appendages to feed on what it found on the floor of the ancient sea, while the younglings floated around it, filtering zoo-or phytoplankton.
The threads kept them attached to their parent so that they wouldn’t float away and end up somebody else’s dinner.
The arthropod received the name of Kite Runner because the archaeologists believed that the capsules looked like small kites that surrounded the adult specimen. Moreover, they wanted to pay tribute to Khaled Hosseini’s novel.
Image source: Wikimedia