The "kite runner" is fascinating the scientific community.
It’s called the “kite runner,” and it’s one of the strangest creatures you’ll ever see.
The ancient arthropod species, Aquilonifer spinosus, carries its young around in miniature pouches that are tethered to its body, according to a Yale University statement.
Scientists named it the “kite runner” after the Khalid Hosseini novel of the same name because its young resembled kites. As the mom moved around, the young would seem almost like mere decorations rather than its brood.
The kite runner isn’t around today. It lived 430 million years ago and was quite small, reaching just a half inch in length. It lived on the sea floor along with shrimps and snails and worms.
Other than that, there’s not much we know about this species, only one specimen of which has ever been found — in Herefordshire, England. This one specimen has a mother with 10 smaller kite runners attached by threads.
“Modern crustaceans employ a variety of strategies to protect their eggs and embryos from predators — attaching them to the limbs, holding them under the carapace, or enclosing them within a special pouch until they are old enough to be released — but this example is unique,” lead author Derek Briggs, Yale’s G. Evelyn Hutchinson Professor of Geology and Geophysics and curator of invertebrate paleontology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, said in the statement. “Nothing is known today that attaches the young by threads to its upper surface.”
He added: “We have named it after the novel by Khalid Hosseini due to the fancied resemblance of the juveniles to kites. As the parent moved around, the juveniles would have looked like decorations or kites attached to it. It shows that arthropods evolved a variety of brooding strategies beyond those around today — perhaps this strategy was less successful and became extinct.”