Scientific identify: Conus species 
Scientific classification:
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Order: Sorbeoconcha
Family: Conidae


What do they seem like?
Cone shells are snails with exquisitely patterned shells, usually consisting of brown decorations in opposition to a light-weight background. The shell could be as a lot as 23 cm lengthy. The spire of the shell isn't very apparent, giving it the looks of a brief, stubby cigar. The solely components of the animal seen outside are the big, muscular foot, the lengthy proboscis, which is actually its mouth and its eye stalks.

Where do they dwell?
The cone shells are animals of tropical and subtropical waters, usually within the western Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific oceans. They are sometimes discovered on coral reefs.

Characteristics

When we consider snails we usually consider the common-or-garden backyard snail—gradual shifting, benign creatures. However, within the seas, many snails are fierce predators, ready to deal with prey bigger than themselves. The cone shell is one such instance. Active cone shells transfer round their habitat utilizing their muscular foot and utilizing their siphon to “taste” the water for potential prey. When prey is inside vary, the snail hundreds its proboscis with a small harpoon, which is definitely a single tooth from its radula (the snail equal of jaws). The harpoon is lengthy, grooved and has a barb at one finish and is retained on the entrance of the proboscis by the radula muscle. Once in place the proboscis is shot ahead and impales the prey on the harpoon, which stays related to the snail by means of a slender wire of tissue. A big muscular bulb and very lengthy poison duct contained in the snail are used to pump venom into the prey by means of the hole harpoon. Thisvenom may be very potent certainly, containing varied neurotoxic and ache-killing chemical compounds. In not more than 1–2 seconds the prey is immobilized and because the harpoon continues to be connected it may be drawn again in the direction of the animal the place it's engulfed by the capacious proboscis, earlier than slipping into the snail’s abdomen. The prey could be sizeable, together with small fish and giant polychaete worms. In these cone shells that feed on different snails, there is no such thing as a likelihood of the prey escaping; subsequently the harpoon is free of the proboscis. In the species feeding on very lively prey, the snail is commonly hid within the sand, the place it waits till the prey is immediately above it earlier than thrusting its harpoon into the gentle underbelly of the fish or worm.

Key Facts

  • There are roughly 500 species of cone shell all through the world’s tropical oceans and all exhibit this distinctive feeding technique. As the shells of these animals are very enticing, they've been coveted by collectors for hundreds of years. One species, the glory of the seas, was very extremely prized, till giant populations of it have been found.
  • In current years, the venom of the cone shell has attracted a lot curiosity from scientists who have been intrigued by the pace of its impact. It was additionally found that the venom accommodates sure ache-killing parts. These ache killers forestall the animal from struggling earlier than the paralysis takes maintain. The neurotoxic compounds present in cone shell venom off er potential new therapies for a spread of human situations, together with Alzheimer’s illness, Parkinson’s illness and epilepsy. A ache killer developed from the cone shell has already been examined and is believed to be many instances extra eff ective than morphine for the aid of ache. It is probably going that with the passage of time, extra medical functions for these compounds will probably be found.
  • Due to the curiosity in cone shells, each from a medical and aesthetic viewpoint, there have been over 30 recorded deaths, following an individual carelessly choosing up certainly one of these shells and receiving a sting, even by means of gloves and wetsuits. The venom of 1 species, the cigarette snail, is alleged to be so quick appearing the sufferer may have simply sufficient time to have a smoke, earlier than they expire. Unlike snake venom there is no such thing as a recognized antivenom and the one therapy entails a life assist machine till the physique has had time to breakdown the venom.
  • Cone shells will not be the one marine snails with an attention-grabbing method of catching prey. The helmet shells (Cassis species) use sulfuric acid secretions to reduce a gap in sea urchins, a course of taking not more than 10 minutes. Once the urchin’s defenses are breached the snail inserts its proboscis to feed on the fl esh inside. The drills (Urosalpinx species and Rapana species) are snails that use a mix of rasping radula motion and acidic secretions to wreak havoc in oyster beds. It takes these snails about eight hours to penetrate a shell 2 mm thick. The proboscis can then be inserted by means of the drill gap permitting the radula to break up the gentle tissues of the prey.