Content Highlights - Geography cone – a poisonous snail

Our new content highlight comes from the collections of invertebrates and represents a large group named 'gastropods'. Did you know that Conus geographus has a poisonous stinger? It is located on the tip of a long, extensible tentacle, which can reach up to three-quarters of the length of the shell.

Conus geographus is a type of sea snail, found among coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, and in the Red Sea. Its shell is wide, thin-walled and barrel-shaped. The mouth of the shell is long and relatively thin, only in the lower part is it markedly wider. Color is a characteristic irregular white with brown spots. The shells of Conus geographus have always been prized for their beauty, and are of interest to collectors. The geography cone is a predator, even capable of catching fish.

It is one of the few snails that can be dangerous to humans. The geography cone, like other cones, attacks its prey by using an extensible tentacle, tipped with a poisonous sting. The stinger is shaped like a hollow harpoon, even possessing rear-facing spines. Its venom is strongly neurotoxic, causing muscle paralysis, accompanied by pain, nausea, vomiting and abdominal colic. More severe cases display accelerated pulse, double vision, vocal paralysis and uncoordinated movements. There is no antidote for cone venom; treatment consists solely of trying to keep the victim alive until the poison wears off.

The geography cone starts off our new series, which will introduce more than thirty poisonous species from different taxonomic groups and parts of the world. If you are interested in learning more about poisonous nature, stay tuned to us. We will have a surprise for you at the beginning of next week!

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith