Cone Snail

Cone Snail…

Conus pennaceus attacks pair of Monoplex nicobaricus. Image credit: Brocken Inaglory GFDL v1.2

The cone snail is a carnivorous sea snail, and one of the most venomous creatures in the world. It uses its venom for defense and for hunting. However, it only attacks humans if it is disturbed.

Cone shell ingesting a small fish. Cone shells incapacitate their prey by injecting a neurotoxin which can be dangerous to humans. Author: David Burdick PD image

The cone snail has a specialized structure called a radula, which holds modified harpoon-like teeth, which the snail can attach to a thin, hollow tube, called a proboscis. The snail then fires this at its victim to inject the venom, and reels the prey back in. The attack is one of the fastest in the animal kingdom, lasting just milliseconds. The venom paralyses the victim, and the snail to swallows it whole. The snail then regurgitates any indigestible matter (like scales and spines).

A live Textile cone, Conus textile, one of the dangerous cones to handle. Copyright (c) 2005 Richard Ling GFDL v1.2

There are more than 600 species of cone snails, ranging from 0.5 to 9 inches (1.3 to 23 centimeters) long. Cone snails are classified into three categories: fish eaters (piscivores), worm eaters (vermivores) and mollusk/snail eaters (molluscivores).

The Cone Snail is one of ’25 of the Most Poisonous or Venomous Animals in the World’
View the complete list of 25 poisonous animals.

World’s Weirdest : Killer Cone Snail

This is by NatGeoWild, it shows a cone snail preying on a nearby fish.

Cone Sea Shell – Geographis Cone

slk320k brings us some great footage of the cone snail.

NATURE | The Venom Cure | Over in a Flash | PBS

More footage and interesting facts about the cone snail, called a cone shell here, from PBS.

Killer Cone Snails

More information from National Geographic on this unexpected killer.


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