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Ancient arthropod kept its brood close

Threads tethered juveniles to parent, fossil suggests

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3:00pm, April 4, 2016
Ancient Arthropod

KEEP CLOSE  The ancient arthropod Aquilonifer spinosus tethered its offspring to its armor, shown in this 3-D rendering.

Family ties last 430 million years — at least for one newly discovered arthropod species.

Researchers discovered the fossilized remains of Aquilonifer spinosus encased in carbonate from a formation called the Herefordshire Lagerstätte in England. Shields covered the 9.5-millimeter arthropod from head to tail, and long spines protruded from its armor. But that’s not all: A closer look with 3-D imaging revealed 10 tiny arthropods, ranging in size from 0.5 to 2 millimeters in length, strung to the armor like kites.

A. spinosus represents the

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