Geography cone shell with toxic proboscis extended

Cone snails

Intricately patterned and brightly coloured shells give the cone snails an attractive appearance. But beneath all the glamour they are predatory and venomous sea snails. What makes these quite beautiful snails so dangerous to fish, worms or molluscs is their fusion of different neurotoxins, a mix that is unique to each species. This deadly cocktail is delivered by a harpoon-like strike from a modified tooth that is propelled out of the extended proboscis. Once the prey has been immobilised it is swallowed whole. Cone snails have a remarkable ability to rapidly modify their venom for different prey: some of which are of great interest to the biomedical industry. There are over 600 species of cone snail and most of them are found among coral reefs in tropical coastal regions.

Scientific name: Conus

Rank: Genus

Common names:

  • Cone shells,
  • Cones

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Distribution

The Cone snails can be found in a number of locations including: Australia, Great Barrier Reef. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

Habitats

The following habitats are found across the Cone snails distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Behaviours

Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

When they lived

Discover the other animals and plants that lived during the following geological time periods.

Classification

  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Molluscs
  4. Snails and slugs
  5. Neogastropoda
  6. Conidae
  7. Cone snails

BBC News about Cone snails

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