Where are cone snails found: Wilderness: Cone Snail Sting
Wilderness: Cone Snail Sting
Cone Snail Sting Overview
A cone snail has a cone-shaped shell, a fleshy foot, a head, and tentacles. Cone snails live in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean and Red Seas, and along the coast of Florida. They are not aggressive. The sting usually occurs when divers in deep reef waters handle the snails. Swimmers and snorkelers are unlikely to find cone snails in shallow intertidal waters. Their empty shells are prized items on sandy beaches.
Cone snail shells range in size from less than an inch to 9 inches long. The snail unwinds itself in the shell and comes out the opening. Much like a harpoon, a sharp venomous stinger stabs the snail’s prey. Cone snails hunt worms and other snails. A few varieties of cone snails eat fish, and these are the most harmful to humans.
Avoid contact with these animals. The animal’s harpoon can penetrate gloves. The toxin is similar to the paralytic toxin of the pufferfish and blue-ringed octopus.
Cone Snail Sting Symptoms
- Symptoms include intense pain, numbness, and tingling.
- Symptoms can begin within minutes or take days to appear.
- Severe cases of cone snail stings involve muscle paralysis, blurred/double vision, and respiratory paralysis, leading to death.
Cone Snail Sting Treatment
- To relieve pain, immerse the affected area in water as hot as is tolerable.
- Use the pressure-immobilization technique to prevent the venom from spreading through the body as much as possible:
- The extremity should be wrapped with a bandage in a style similar to wrapping a sprained ankle.
- Bind the limb firmly but do not block the circulation. Fingers and toes should remain pink.
- Leave bandages intact until medical care can be reached.
- Avoid movement.
- CPR may be necessary. Artificial respiration may save the person’s life.
- Do not cut into the wound, apply suction, or use a tourniquet.
When to Seek Medical Care
- Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
- Intensive care hospitalization, including use of a respirator, may be required.
For More Information – Web Links
The University of Edinburgh, Cone Snails
MedlinePlus, Marine animal stings or bites
Media file 1: Cone snail shells.
Media type: Image
Media file 2: Molecular model of cone snail toxin that blocks skeletal muscle sodium-channels, causing paralysis. Other toxins can block calcium channels and nicotinic acetylcholine channels in cardiac and nerve tissues.
Media type: Image
Synonyms and Keywords
wilderness: cone snail sting, cone snail sting, cone snail poisoning, paralytic toxin, toxin, pressure-immobilization
North American Poisonous Cone Snails
By Karen Mihaylo
i Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Poisonous cone snails of North America are predatory carnivores living in tidal waters from California to Florida. They’re found under rocks in coral reefs and in mangroves. All cone snails are poisonous, and some can be deadly, but North American cone snails are not fatal to humans. Scientists are studying cone snail venom, which has the potential for relieving pain and treating diseases.
The cone snail has a siphon tube on top of his head, which serves as a nose, detecting prey that’s close by. The proboscis is a flexible tube that’s twice as long as his body, and it delivers venom produced by a gland inside the snail’s body. He has a huge mouth that reaches out to engulf prey. The cone snail has two eyes on each side, located on stalks beside his mouth.
Cone Snail Shells
All cone snail shells are cone-shaped, but they’re found in a wide variety of colors, patterns and designs. They can be large or small, slender or broad. The shell’s top can be flat, round or pointed, and the shoulder can be rounded, sloped or squared. The texture varies from smooth to corded, grooved or knobby. Most cone snail shells are vividly colored with interesting patterns, but some are muted tan or gray without patterns.
Cone snails are nocturnal hunters, using their long proboscis to lure fish, worms and other snails. They inject fast-acting poison with a toothed ribbon connected to the venom gland, called the radula, paralyzing their prey. Cone snails often burrow in underwater sand, leaving their siphon tube exposed to detect prey. They can consume prey as large as themselves, which may take a few days to digest. They remain buried until the food is digested.
Scientists began studying cone snail venom in the 1990s. Prialt, a synthetic pain medication, is a result of these studies. It relieves severe and chronic pain, is more potent than morphine, and has no risk of addiction. Scientists believe medicines made from cone snail conotoxins have the potential to be used in treatments for epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, strokes, cancers and other painful diseases.
Karen Mihaylo has been a writer since 2009. She has been a professional dog groomer since 1982 and is certified in canine massage therapy. Mihaylo holds an associate degree in human services from Delaware Technical and Community College.
How the Cone Snail’s Deadly Venom Can Help Us Build Better Medicines
In the wild, cone snails harpoon their prey as it swims by. In the lab, the cone snail has learned to exchange venom for dinner. Here, a snail extends its proboscis and discharges a shot of venom into a latex-topped tube. To see more photos, please view the full photo essay.
Cone snails have inspired humans for centuries. Coastal communities have often traded their beautiful shells like money and put them in jewelry. Many artists, including Rembrandt, have featured them in sketches and paintings. Now, scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are finding these deadly predators inspiring, too, as they seek new ways to cure old medical problems using the poisonous snails as models.
“This is the same venom used to kill dinosaurs in ‘Jurassic Park,’” says NIST biochemist Frank Marí, with a chuckle. “It is scary stuff, but that power could be used for a different kind of good in real life.”
Like all NIST scientists, Marí measures things. Specifically, he measures RNA and the associated proteins at work inside marine animals. As technology has improved over the years, he and his team have become better able to examine, analyze and catalog the molecules at work in some of the ocean’s lesser-known creatures, including cone snails. This year, his lab made several significant discoveries about their venom, discoveries that might ultimately lead to the development of new medicines for hard-to-treat diseases. By imitating the way that these small, quiet creatures deliver poison, scientists may be able to better deliver cures.
On any given day, Marí can be found walking up and down the rows of burbling aquarium tanks at the Hollings Marine Laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina, checking on the 60 individual cone snails that have lived in his lab for the past 15 years. Once a week, he and his staff make a kind of delicate negotiation with them, trading a dead fish for a dose of poison to be gathered in a tube and stored away for use in ongoing scientific measurements and investigations.
“Cone snails are so unusual,” Marí says. “They are not really like any other creature on Earth, and working with them is almost like working with an extraterrestrial. But that’s also fun. The cone snail system is like a candy store to someone like me.”
More than 800 species of cone snails have been found worldwide, mostly in warmer, tropical areas. They are reclusive, faceless creatures and not aggressive, but will sting defensively when picked up by an unwitting shell collector. The smallest cone snails impart a sting that is about as powerful as a bee sting, but the sting of larger species can kill an adult human in a matter of hours. The deadliest cone snail is thought to be the “cigarette snail” of the Indo-Pacific, a snail roughly the length of a man’s thumb that can deliver a toxin so strong that you’d only have time to finish one cigarette before dying from its attack.
Although his collection includes several species, Marí’s special area of focus is the purple cone snail (Conus purpurascens). It’s a creature mostly found in the Eastern Pacific coastal waters off the Gulf of California down to Peru and offshore around the Galapagos Islands, slowly moving along the rocky bottom where it grows to be a few inches long. Like all snails from the Conus genus, these nocturnal animals are common, but often go unseen by casual beachgoers.
Despite their own slow tendencies, these snails have evolved to skillfully hunt far speedier animals in the dark by firing a single harpoon-like tooth into other snails, fish and worms. Once injected, the prey becomes instantly paralyzed and unable to make a getaway. The snail then slowly pulls the immobilized meal inside its shell to be digested, whole. Each tooth is discarded after use and immediately replaced by another. Some cone snails travel with 20 or so of these teeth embedded in their systems, loaded and ready to be fired off when the next meal happens to swim along.
In its native state, cone snail venom would obviously not make a great treatment for human ailments. But by unpacking it bit by bit and measuring each component on the molecular level, Marí and his team aim to understand and catalog how each aspect of this poison does its job.
“There’s a lot we are just learning about them,” Marí says.
Why, for instance, is cone snail venom able to penetrate another animal’s nervous system so quickly? And how does it paralyze a victim so effectively? Even more puzzling, some individual purple cone snails are not toxic at all, which Marí thinks might be related to stages of development in the snails.
The answers to all of these cone snail questions could be used to create new medicines that move through a patient’s body in a quicker and more efficient manner, such as new types of insulin for the treatment of diabetes or better treatments for neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s. Some think venom research can provide new delivery systems for drugs that would aim to curtail quick-spreading forms of cancer. Others want to use the venom’s ingredients for the treatment of addiction. One component of cone snail venom has even been used in anti-wrinkle creams now on the market that put the power of inflammation to work under the skin, puffing out creases and fine lines on human faces.
For a paper just published in Scientific Reports, Marí and his team used cone snail toxins as molecular probes to identify an important overlap between the immune and central nervous systems in humans. Their work demonstrated for the first time that a classic toxin—one usually associated with the central nervous system—can also have an impact in the immune system, whereby some cells are signaled in specific ways once certain kinds of cone snail peptides, known as conotoxins, enter the body. The new information may aid in the development of therapies for eradicating gastric, breast and lung cancers, as well as in the control of tuberculosis, since all of those illnesses trigger overproduction of some cells. Rather than using the toxin as an actual cure, the work would provide a road map for better understanding (and maybe controlling) the growth of undesirable cells.
For another study published recently in the Journal of Proteomics, Marí and his team worked on the isolation and characterization of an enzyme in the cone snail venom called Conohyal-P1. They used an ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometer, one of the most powerful tools available to identify and count proteins in a sample. A similar enzyme is found in both lionfish and bee venoms. Surprisingly, it is also found in many kinds of mammalian sperm, where it helps to weaken cell walls of ovaries and facilitate entry of the sperm and successful reproduction.
“We knew that this enzyme was able to break down extracellular tissue,” says Marí, referring to the outermost membranes of cells. “We now have been able to carefully evaluate the activity of the enzyme for anyone to use in future work. In addition, we have identified a new subtype that had not been known before.”
In a third paper, published recently in the journal Neuropharmacology, Marí and his team evaluated toxins in the cone snail venom by testing them on the central nervous systems of fruit flies. Although the fruit fly is very different from humans in many ways, its central nervous system can provide a great model for a wide variety of medical studies because the basic structure of cells in fruit fly brains is similar to the structure of cells in human brains. So, if a fruit fly brain cell reacts one way, scientists know a human cell will, too.
Marí’s team specifically wanted to know how conotoxins interact with a variety of molecular targets in the nervous system of their prey. Purple cone snail venom contains a large number of these protein building blocks, more than 2,000 of them.
“The venom is incredibly complex,” Marí says. “We wanted to answer the question: which parts could be used as medicine?”
In this case, they found that the flies’ response to injections of cone snail venom primarily took place in the receptors that govern muscle movement and addiction. Such details could be useful in the development of new drugs for Parkinson’s disease, which often ravages the muscular-skeletal system, impairing a patient’s ability to control basic body movements. It might also help with the development of effective nicotine addiction treatments.
“The pattern on a cone snail shell is very beautiful,” Marí says. “But I think the biology and biochemistry are even more beautiful, and as we explore all the different aspects of the venom, we can open all kinds of new opportunities for medical use. We are finally able to crack the code.”
Papers: A. Padilla, P. Keating, J.X. Hartmann and F. Marí. Effects of α-conotoxin ImI on TNF-α, IL-8 and TGF-β expression by human macrophage-like cells derived from THP-1 pre-monocytic leukemic cells. Scientific Reports. Published online 6 October 2017. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-11586-2
C. Möller, E. Clark, H. Safavi-Hemani, A. DeCaprio and F. Marí. Isolation and characterization of Conohyal-P1, a hyaluronidase from the injected venom of Conus purpurascens. Journal of Proteomics. Published online 5 July 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.jprot.2017.05.002
M. F. Hoggard, A. Rodriguez, H. Cano, E. Clark, Han-Shen, T. David, J. Adams, T.A. Godenschwegee and F. Marí. In vivo and in vitro testing of native α-conotoxins from the injected venom of Conus purpurascens. Neuropharmacology. Published online 14 September 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2017.09.020
the Most Venomous Animal on Earth Is Truly Surprising
The most venomous animal in the world isn’t what you’d expect.
Check him out:
California cone snail.
This little guy is a cone snail. It has a host of deadly adaptations, including a venomous harpoon, that it uses to catch prey.
The cone snail species that packs the most venomous wallop is the geography cone snail, according to BBC Earth.
Cone snails are a group of marine snails found in tropical oceans and seas around the world, though some live in more temperate habitats, like the waters around Southern California, the Mediterranean Sea and around the southern cape of South Africa.
The cone snail’s highly specialized teeth, known as radulae, work like a combination hypodermic needle and harpoon to skewer and poison its prey:
The snail’s toxins target the nervous system, paralyzing its victim and allowing the snail to get over to its meal at its own speed. The cone snail is constantly regrowing its radulae, meaning its rarely without its deadly harpoon teeth.
“For species of cone snail that hunt fish it is important to have a very fast-acting and powerful venom, because otherwise fish can easily escape from such a slow moving predator,” Ronald Jenner of the Natural History Museum in London told the BBC.
Some take refuge on rocks and coral reefs, while others hunt by burying themselves in sand, waiting for unsuspecting prey, like the unfortunate fish below:
Their ornate, geometric shells are also an attractive souvenir, which poses a risk for unsuspecting divers and beach combers, and the larger species of cone snail have radulae large enough to pierce a wetsuit.
Historically, 65% of people stung by the geography cone snail die if they don’t get to a hospital in time. We don’t currently have any medicines that can neutralize the snails’ conotoxin venom. The only treatment is to treat the symptoms and try to keep the victim alive until the venom wears off.
Steve Lonhart (SIMoN / MBNMS)
Even though this snail is slow and has only killed a few dozen people, there are a few reasons why it’s considered the most venomous animal in the world.
The dose of venom in a strike is key. Some, like the king cobra, deliver a large amount of venom with its large, channeled fangs. Others, like the tiny deathstalker scorpion, only need to administer a little venom to kill. It takes 1/10th as much cone snail venom to do the same damage.
Another important qualification for danger is the animals’ attitude. Some very venomous snakes — like the inland taipan of northern Australia — are less dangerous because they are calm and reclusive. On the other hand, its relative, the coastal taipan, has weaker venom but comes into contact with more people more often so is a much greater danger.
The cone snail’s predatory nature and willingness to strike (its constantly regrowing its harpoon teeth) bolsters its danger.
But while these animals are scary, when appropriately harnessed, their venom can be medically useful.
Hundreds of the components of the cone snail’s venom are highly toxic to humans, but one of them is an incredibly effective as a painkiller. When scientists copied its structure in the lab they found it to be 1000 times more powerful than morphine, and, they think, less addictive.
Cone Snail Venom Shows Potential for Treating Severe Malaria
Conus nux, a species of sea snail (Photo credit: Fred Pflueger, Ph.D.)
Severe forms of malaria such as Plasmodium falciparum may be deadly even after treatment with current parasite-killing drugs. This is due to persistent cyto-adhesion of infected erythrocytes even though existing parasites within the red blood cells are dead. As vaccines for malaria have proved less than moderately effective, and to treat these severe cases of P. falciparum malaria, new avenues are urgently needed. Latest estimates indicate that more than 500 million cases of malaria and more than 400,000 deaths are reported worldwide each year. Anti-adhesion drugs may hold the key to significantly improving survival rates.
Using venom from the Conus nux, a species of sea snail, a first-of-its-kind study from Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine in collaboration with FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and the Chemical Sciences Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, United States Department of Commerce, suggests that these conotoxins could potentially treat malaria. The study provides important leads toward the development of novel and cost-effective anti-adhesion or blockade-therapy pharmaceuticals aimed at counteracting the pathology of severe malaria.
Results, published in the
, expand the pharmacological reach of conotoxins/ conopeptides by revealing their ability to disrupt protein-protein and protein-polysaccharide interactions that directly contribute to the disease. Similarly, mitigation of emerging diseases like AIDS and COVID-19 also could benefit from conotoxins as potential inhibitors of protein-protein interactions as treatment. Venom peptides from cone snails has the potential to treat countless diseases using blockage therapies.
“Molecular stability, small size, solubility, intravenous delivery, and no immunogenic response make conotoxins excellent blockade-therapy candidates,” said Andrew V. Oleinikov, Ph.D., corresponding author and a professor of biomedical science, FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine. “Conotoxins have been vigorously studied for decades as molecular probes and drug leads targeting the central nervous systems. They also should be explored for novel applications aimed to thwart amiss cellular responses or foil host parasite interactions through their binding with endogenous and exogenous proteins. Further investigation is likely to yield breakthroughs in fields continuously toiling for more efficient therapeutic approaches such as cancer, autoimmune diseases, novel emerging viral diseases as well as malaria where venom-based peptidic natural products can be put into practice. ”
The disruption of protein-protein interactions by conotoxins is an extension of their well known inhibitory action in many ion channels and receptors. Disabling prey by specifically modulating their central nervous system is a ruling principle in the mode of action of venoms.
“Among the more than 850 species of cone snails there are hundreds of thousands of diverse venom exopeptides that have been selected throughout several million years of evolution to capture their prey and deter predators,” said Frank Marí, Ph.D., corresponding author and senior advisor for biochemical sciences at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “They do so by targeting several surface proteins present in target excitable cells. This immense biomolecular library of conopeptides can be explored for potential use as therapeutic leads against persistent and emerging diseases affecting non-excitable systems.”
For the study, researchers used high-throughput assays to study Conus nux collected off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. They revealed the in vitro capacity of cone snail venom to disrupt protein-protein and protein-polysaccharide interactions that directly contribute to pathology of P. falciparum malaria. They determined that six fractions from the venom inhibit the adhesion of recombinant P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP-1) domains to their corresponding receptors, which express on the endothelial microvasculature and the placenta.
The results are noteworthy as each of these six venom fractions, which contain a mostly single or a very limited set of peptides, affected binding of domains with different receptor specificity to their corresponding receptors, which are proteins (CD36 and ICAM-1), and polysaccharide. This activity profile suggests that the peptides in these conotoxin fractions either bind to common structural elements in the different PfEMP1 domains, or that a few different peptides in the fraction may interact efficiently (concentration of each is lower proportionally to the complexity) with different domains.
Study co-authors are Alberto Padilla, Ph.D., first author and a former graduate student, FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine; Sanaz Dovell, Ph.D., a former student in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science; Olga Chesnokov, Ph.D., research associate, FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine; and Mickelene Hoggard, Ph.D., Chemical Sciences Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
This research is supported in part by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (grants R21A137721 and R01AI092120) awarded to Oleinikov.
Cone snails use sexual enticements to lure prey out of hiding — ScienceDaily
Cone snails aren’t glamorous. They don’t have svelte waistlines or jaw-dropping good looks. Yet, some of these worm-hunting gastropods are the femme fatales or lady killers of the undersea world, according to a new study conducted by an international team of researchers, including University of Utah Health scientists.
The researchers say the snails use a previously undetected set of small molecules that mimic the effects of worm pheromones to drive marine worms into a sexual frenzy, making it easier to lure them out of their hiding places so the snails can gobble them up.
“In essence, these cone snails have found a way to turn the natural sex drive of their prey into a lethal weapon,” says Eric W. Schmidt, Ph.D., the study’s senior author and a professor of medicinal chemistry at U of U Health. “What’s exciting about this finding is that they are doing it using an interesting set of small molecules that could one day inspire the development of new types of medications to alleviate pain and other conditions.”
The study appears in Science Advances.
Cone snails use a harpoon-like tooth at the end of their proboscis to inject venom into prey, instantly paralyzing them. Then, they slowly reel the immobilized animal into their mouths. For decades, scientists have been fascinated by this process. In particular, they’re intrigued by the chemical makeup of various venoms the snails use to disable prey and are exploring ways to reconfigure these substances into useful human medications.
Most scientists have focused their research on cone snails that hunt fish. The venoms from these gastropods are mainly composed of tiny protein segments called peptides. These peptides can be used to develop drugs, However, because of their structural composition, they can only be used as injectable drugs and can’t be taken orally.
In this new research, Schmidt and colleagues turned their attention to C. imperialis, a species of cone snail that primarily hunts Platynereis dumerili, more commonly known as a fire worm. The research team discovered that C. imperialis, or imperial cone, produces small chemicals that powerfully mimic the pheromones that trigger sexual activity in fire worms. The discovery of small molecules in the imperial cone could broaden the snail’s usefulness in medical research since about 80 percent of drugs are derived from small molecules.
In laboratory experiments, one of these chemicals — called conazolium A — sparked mating behavior in female worms, causing them to swim in tight, tail-chasing circles before they released their eggs. Genuanine, a chemical akin to uric acid, had a similar effect on male fire worms, prompting them to eject their sperm.
The researchers aren’t quite sure how this approach works in the wild, but they suspect that it could be a two-step process: First, the imperial cone exposes the fire worm to its fake sex pheromones, making it is easier to coax the worm out of its hiding spot (usually a coral reef). Then, like other cone snails, it harpoons the worm with a peptide-based venom to disable it.
But there’s a catch: mature worms are only sexually active for a short time that coincides with a full moon.
“If you expose the worms when they are either immature or not sexually active, the mimic pheromones don’t have any effect,” says Joshua Torres, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a former U of U Health graduate student. “The snails have to use other hunting techniques in these incidents.”
In fact, in their laboratory experiments, the researchers needed to use artificial moon light to induce sexual responses among the worms to cone snail pheromones. As a result, the researchers caution that how cone snails actually hunt in the wild and how these compounds fit into that quest remains largely unknown.
Moving forward, Schmidt and Torres are intrigued by the potential of using the small molecules produced by the imperial cone snail to lure worms out of hiding as a starting point for the development of new drugs.
Cone snails: a powerful medicinal resource at risk
But a study by a research team from our Department of Environment and Geography shows that some species are under threat of extinction – and their loss could rob future generations of an, as yet, an undiscovered reservoir of pharmaceuticals.
Cone snails live in warm tropical seas and manufacture powerful venom to immobilise their prey of fish, worms and other molluscs. Scientists are using these neurotoxins, some powerful enough to kill people, as the basis for research into the development of life-saving drugs for medical conditions including intense chronic pain, epilepsy, asthma and multiple sclerosis.
Across the world, however, tropical marine habitats are being lost due to coastal development, pollution, destructive fishing and climate change, resulting in rapid species loss. A recent global assessment of 632 species of cone snails for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List by our researchers found that some species are at imminent risk of extinction.
The study found an almost complete lack of protection for cone snails anywhere in the world.
Lead author, Dr Howard Peters, of the Department of Environment and Geography, said: “Cone snails are seeing rapid shrinkage of their habitats as human impacts multiply. We found that 67 species are currently threatened or near-threatened with extinction worldwide, but this rises to nearly half of all species (42) in the Eastern Atlantic, where there is an exceptional concentration of range-restricted species. ”
He added: “Despite their extraordinary beauty and value, cone snails have fallen completely underneath the conservation radar. These snails need swift action to protect their habitats and publicise the dire consequences of irresponsible shell collecting of the most threatened species. Holidaymakers need to think twice before taking a seashell home as a souvenir.”
Co-author Professor Callum Roberts added: “This study provides an important yardstick from which to measure our growing impact on molluscs, one of the richest groups in the sea, and the long-term consequences of ocean acidification. Ocean acidity is increasing due to fossil fuel burning as carbon dioxide dissolves in the sea. Without action to reduce emissions, rising acidification could cause shelled marine creatures to literally dissolve away by the end of this century.”
The research was published in PLOS ONE.
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90,000 Poisonous and predatory snail Cone, (description, habitat, food)
The Cone snail (in Latin Conidae) is a predatory gastropod mollusk. The beautiful multi-colored shells of these snails are decorated by nature with bizarre drawings, they have inspired the imagination of people for more than one century. In ancient times, shells were a kind of currency for those who lived on the ocean shore. They were collected and exchanged for money, ornaments made of them were sold. The cones are depicted on the canvases of the Dutch artist Rembrandt and some other painters; art students love to draw them on sketches.
Snail Cone – poisonous, not so long ago, employees of the American National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) turned the properties of this deadly shellfish to humans for the benefit of their health. On the basis of the poison of this mollusk, medicines are made, thanks to which it has become possible to treat diseases long known to medicine in a new way.
Where the snail lives Cone
In total, more than 800 species of these molluscs are known, most of which live in tropical waters.But there are those who live in a temperate climate – warm deep-water bodies, for example, in the Mediterranean Sea.
Predator Cone is a snail that usually preys on sea worms and molluscs. Sometimes it eats small fish and crustaceans. Prey paralyzes with its poison.
Bites of many types are deadly for humans, not all types of cones are suitable for the production of drugs. But some are used in pharmacology – strong painkillers are made from poison that do not cause drug addiction.
The most poisonous subspecies of cones:
Poison-toothed mollusk Geographic (in Latin Conus geographus) – the most dangerous of all. It is also called “cigarette” for a conical-oval shell 43-166 mm long, its habitat is the Indo-Pacific region.
In principle, cones lead a hermitic lifestyle, they are not aggressive, therefore, shell gatherers are mainly at risk.Snails defend themselves when they are taken in hand – they release stings, their bites are comparable to bee stings. The stings of large species kill a person in a matter of hours, and the bite of a “cigarette snail” generally leaves the victim time to smoke just one cigarette.
From the name it is clear that the shells of these mollusks are cone-shaped. The color of the shell depends on the habitat – it is influenced by the chemical composition of ocean or sea water. The basic color background of the shells can be of various pastel shades:
- light gray,
- light pink, etc.d.,
- but there are also species with bright multi-colored shells.
The length of the shells in most species is from 4 to 20 cm, but there are cones 50 cm long and weighing more than 2 kg. It is clear that in such a large “little body” and the gland that produces nerve poison is also significant.
The shells of cone snails are not only an object of sale in the form of jewelry and crafts, but also a collectible. So, it is known that in Germany collectors gave more than 200 thousand marks for individual copies.
The structure of the oral apparatus and the way of eating food
These snails are nocturnal, and in the daytime they burrow in the sand. On the radula (as mollusks call the apparatus for capturing and grinding food), there are pointed teeth in the form of harpoons bent inward. At night, the cones hunt and eat their prey, as if scraping with these “harpoons” layer by layer of the victim’s flesh. Inside each “harpoon” are hollow grooves connected to a poison-producing gland.
The snail detects prey with a special sense organ.As soon as the victim is selected, one of the teeth moves out of the pharynx, its cavity is filled with poison, which passes through the groove and accumulates at the very tip. Having approached the object of the hunt at the required distance, the mollusk shoots poison from the tooth at it, and a strong toxic secret paralyzes the prey.
How snails hunt
The food of most species of cones is sea worms, but there are also those that feed on shellfish and fish. In species that eat fish, the most toxic poison – it has a paralytic effect in a second.
Despite the usually slow movements of the cones, their evolutionary path of development in order to survive is such that in the dark they have learned to quickly attack creatures that are several times more mobile than the snails themselves. “Harpoon” with a poisonous secret flies out instantly – the poison immobilizes the victim. The mollusk slowly draws in the prey and digests it whole, and the used tooth is discarded and immediately replaced by another.
Some types of cones have outgrowths that attract fish.The poison paralyzes the small fish almost instantly – the body is still wriggling, but the fish has already lost its coordination of movements and cannot escape. Although if she managed to make one strong jerk, she could easily escape from the snail’s teeth, since it moves much faster than a mollusk. The cones suck in small fish, and on those that are larger, they themselves stretch like a stocking.
After the first prey caught, some species of cones still have up to 20 harpoon teeth to hunt for the next prey.
Danger of cones to humans
The paralyzing bites of these snails are also dangerous for human life, especially the Conus geographus. Australian naturalist researcher Rob Bradl argues that death can occur in two minutes. According to statistics, in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, two or three people die every year from contact with cones, and only one from meeting with sharks. The numbers are as follows, because a person who does not know about the dangers of these mollusks feels a desire to immediately take an amazingly beautiful shell in his hands, forcing a small living creature to defend itself.But from a shark, on the contrary, a person escapes as soon as possible.
The lethal dose of the poisonous secretion of the cone snail for a person weighing 70 kg is 2 mg – this is about the same as the snake injects into the victim.
Cone bites are very sensitive, but not only pain. Bites can lead to severe visual impairment, muscle paralysis, respiratory failure and death.
Features of venom of cones and application in medicine
The concentration of the poisonous secretion in the cones varies greatly, and the venom of two individuals of the same species may differ in composition.This is not found in any other species of poisonous animals, for example, in snakes or spiders. In recent years, the poison of the cones has attracted the attention of scientists with a number of its features:
- it contains a fairly simple biochemical component – peptides, these substances are easy to synthesize in the laboratory;
- it gives a quick analgesic effect;
- the action of the peptides that make up the poison is different – some toxins give an analgesic effect, others immobilize;
- peptides that make up the venom do not lead to allergic reactions in people.
But there is no antidote for poison either (because therapy with drugs based on it is possible strictly symptomatic). For example, the indigenous inhabitants of the Pacific Islands practice immediately making an incision and releasing blood at the site of the cone bite.
Today, the venom of these molluscs is used in non-opioid pain relievers. For example, “Ziconotid” is a synthetic version of a non-opioid analgesic (peptide of the cone snail), its effect surpasses the effect of all drugs of this type available today.The cone venom is supposed to be used in drugs that will replace those made on the basis of drug addiction morphines.
One of the components of the cone venom is used in the cosmetic industry – it is found in anti-wrinkle creams. The principle of action is to cause local inflammation along the thinnest lines of the face, which leads to protrusion and smoothing of skin folds.
Here she is, a cone snail, unusual, beautiful and deadly at the same time.
90,000 A snail is an animal or an insect: which class does it belong to?
Is the snail an insect?
The term “gastropod” refers to anyone with a curled, and in some cases conical, body shape. A characteristic feature of the animal is its shell, due to which the animal is usually christened with the definition “snail”. Nevertheless, this name is considered more popular, since the real name of the individual is a gastropod mollusk, which has an external shell.
If this element is absent or, on the contrary, there is a rudimentary shell, then the representative loses the title of “gastropod” and goes to slugs. This individual will definitely not be an insect, because the snail belongs to the animal kingdom. Therefore, for those who are interested in whether a snail is an insect or not, a specific answer can be given.
To finally decide which group the snail belongs to, you should talk in more detail about its distinctive features. The body consists of several parts, there are only three of them:
- inner bag;
Some representatives of gastropods still have a mantle fold, this element departs from the bag. When moving, the lower surface of the sole is used, the muscles of which contract and push off the surface. This is one of the main signs confirming which group of animals snails belong to. To reduce friction, the body secretes a large amount of mucus, it is also designed to protect the feet from abrasion.There are some species of snails that can move along the surface due to the vibrations of small cilia, most often these are small representatives.
Giant snail maintenance at home
So we have determined whether the snail is an insect or not, now we can consider the conditions of keeping such a pet. The Achatina snail is a fairly large land mollusk, not an insect or animal, reaching up to 30 cm in length. This unusual animal is an ideal pet for people who do not like noise, who do not have the opportunity to provide constant care for their pet, but at the same time do not mind watching him.Also suitable for busy people with no free time.
It is quite possible to leave a gastropod alone at home if it becomes necessary to leave, while for a cat or dog you need to find someone who will temporarily take care of them. In addition, these animals do not cause an allergic reaction, and their maintenance does not require large financial costs.
You should first find out which group of animals the snails belong to, so that no problems arise in the process of keeping.So, having decided to take Achatina home, first of all you need to take care of where she will live. An aquarium or terrarium can become a home for gastropods. Even a leaky one is suitable, which is no longer suitable for keeping fish. A prerequisite is the presence of a cover. First, the lid maintains the moisture required for the gastropod. Secondly, if there is a cover, the animal will not crawl out of the aquarium. We must not forget that there must be ventilation holes in the lid. As for the size of the aquarium, it should be at least 15-20 liters per individual, with the addition of another 10 liters for the second and each subsequent individual.
Achatina snail – rather large land mollusk
Also in the aquarium there should be a layer of soil of such a size that the Achatina can burrow into it all. Usually Achatins sleep in the ground, escape from the heat and lay eggs (lay eggs). The soil is purchased in flower shops. The ground from the street is not suitable for these purposes due to the content of microelements hazardous to life in it. The soil must be changed once every 2-3 months.
Due to the fact that the animal produces mucus that remains on the walls of the aquarium, it must be cleaned.This requires a separate sponge, since any detergents are dangerous for the pet’s life. The aquarium should be washed with hot water.
Consideration should be given to the nutrition of the mollusc. The main foods in the diet are fruits, vegetables cut into thin slices, lettuce, dandelions and herbs. It is important to understand that you should not harvest herbs in urban environments. You can give the gastropods oatmeal and powdered eggshells. Food should be at room temperature. It is better to feed snails in the evening, since they are most active at night.Food should be put on a plate (plastic, never glass).
The main foods in the diet are fruits, vegetables cut into thin slices, lettuce, dandelions and herbs
An important aspect in keeping a gastropod is reproduction. Achatina is a hermaphrodite. This means that a second individual is not required for reproduction. The animal makes clutches about 2-4 times a year. The number of eggs in a clutch is from 10 to 300 pieces. Such a number of small snails cannot be given into good hands, so many advise to freeze the eggs in the freezer, then crush and feed them as calcium.If you really want to look at the development and growth of babies, then you can leave a few eggs in the clutch.
In conclusion, I would like to say that despite the fact that snails are very contact animals, you should not often plant them to crawl over the human body, as the animal can accidentally fall to the floor and damage the shell.
Is it possible to settle different types of snails together
You have a new snail and you are faced with the question: to plant them together or separately? If you combine them, you will not have to buy a new box and equipment for it, and you will not need to devote more time to cleaning the ulitarium.And save money, and the snails will be happy. But this is not the case. Each type of molluscs has its own living conditions, relative to air humidity, temperature, soil, food. A slight increase in air temperature up or down will not affect the health of one pet in any way, while the other (s) may feel uncomfortable and get sick. This also applies to humidity. If you try to please both pets at once, you can harm them unreasonably.
From this it follows that in one container there should be snails of one species, and if you have brought others – give them a separate area to live.Several important factors should be noted that must be considered before buying and organizing a snail dwelling:
- About food. Every kind of snail prefers a personalized menu. In principle, you can feed various shellfish with one meal, but someone eats a lot, and someone a little – they have a different appetite. So, if in one box there are a grape snail and Achatina Immakulata, then after some time you have the imprudence to lose the “grape”. Why? Achatina needs a huge amount of protein.In case of its lack, they can start eating their fellow tribesmen, which is not necessary for breeders and simply snail lovers.
- Crossbreeding. Snails, and especially Achatina, are quite fertile creatures, besides, hermaphrodites (they can change sex). If there are 2 different species in the same house, the snails can start to interbreed. As a result, hybrids will appear that are incapable of existence, since they will have abnormalities at the genetic level and a tendency to disease.
- One species of different ages. Snails of the same species, but different in size, should also not be housed together. It is found that large molluscs often eat small ones. And if a large snail begins to climb a small one, then the shell of the second, under the weight of an adult individual, may crack and split. Therefore, it is not recommended to keep single-species snails of different sizes together.
If you still plant several species of snails together, and you do not have the opportunity to put a separate ulitarium, then fix at least a partition inside the house, preferably transparent.So it will be more convenient for you to maintain the necessary conditions for a particular type of molluscs.
90,000 Geographer’s cone snail. Appearance and danger to humans
Geographer’s cone snail (Latin name “Conus geographus”) is a species of mollusks from the genus Cones, the order of Poisonous mollusks. This type of snail is the most poisonous of all other poisonous molluscs.
Cone snails have a very attractive cone-shaped shell.The color of the shell depends on the habitat of the snail, on the chemical composition of the sea water and varies from light gray to greenish, light pink, and so on. The body length of individual specimens of cones can be 50 centimeters, with a body weight of over 2 kilograms. Inside the snail’s body is a large gland that produces a strong nerve poison.
The cone snail is a predator, therefore, over hundreds of years, their mouthparts have perfectly adapted to eating marine life.The teeth of the cone snails are strong needles with barbed ends. When the cone has noticed prey (for example, a small fish), it clamps one of the needles in its mouth, moistens it with poison and plunges it into the victim’s body. The notches on the end of the needle help the snail to keep the victim “on a leash.” The poison acts instantly. The victim loses the ability to move after a few seconds.
Geographer’s cones snails are common in all tropical waters of the World Ocean, very rarely they can be found in subtropical waters (for example, in the Mediterranean Sea).The largest concentration of cones is observed in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.
The poison of the geographer’s cone snails is a great danger to humans. In the first seconds after the injection, a person feels severe pain at the site of the wound, then the limb loses sensitivity. After a few minutes, the victims feel dizzy, nauseous, and possibly unconscious. If you do not provide medical assistance in time, then after 3 – 5 hours the heart may stop or paralysis of the respiratory system will occur.In most cases, the snail’s pricks from the cones will result in the death of the victim.
“Do not confuse sea snails with land snails”
Alexander Sergeev: “Do not confuse sea snails with land snails”
They say that Caesar himself ate snails, and the legionnaires of the Roman Empire took gastropods on campaigns as live canned food – the animals fell into suspended animation, closing the shell hole with a lime lid, and remained for a very long time. Since that time, snails have been credited with a miraculous effect on male potency – thanks to the salt of magnesium, calcium and other trace elements.There is an order of magnitude more protein in snails than in a chicken egg, there is almost no cholesterol, but there is lectin – which fights against bacterial cells in the body. A dietary product that boosts immunity, that’s what snails are.
Chef of the restaurant “Montenegro” Alexander Sergeev tells how to prepare a salad of Bulo snails with vegetables, aioli and passionfruit oil, as well as snails with Casarecce pasta.
Chef of the restaurant “Montenegro” Alexander Sergeev tells how to prepare a salad of Bulo snails with vegetables, aioli and passionfruit oil, as well as snails with Casarecce pasta.
What is Bulo’s snail?
This is a type of gastropod marine mollusk – during life, the snail hides in a spirally twisted calcareous shell, a dense muscular outgrowth of the abdominal wall of the body – or a snail’s leg – goes for food. Sea snail meat is considered a delicacy and easy to digest, an interesting choice for seafood lovers. It is a mistake to confuse sea snails with land snails – among them the most famous one is called grape snails, she is also Burgundy. Sea snails are cleaner than land snails and the largest, they are found in Great Britain, Scotland, in the Barents Sea, Bulo come to us from the north of France.If you are going to cook snails yourself, first you should sort them out and discard the chipped or damaged ones as unnecessary. Soak in vinegar acidified water to get rid of mucus, and cook in vegetable broth – I add fennel, leeks, carrots, bay leaves and fresh thyme. When ready, remove from the broth and quickly place in ice – in the same place and gently pull the leg of the mollusk out of the shell with a fork with two prongs.
What goes well with snails?
The French eat sea snails with mayonnaise or vinegar, oil and salt.I cook sea clams with aioli sauce, make one of the variants of this Mediterranean sauce: I mix the yolk with Dijon mustard, add lemon juice and a pinch of sugar, pour a little olive oil in a thin stream – stirring continuously, put the garlic – with the core removed, so as not to bitter , and fresh green leaves – romaine, frieze, lettuce, rucola can. It would be better to scald the arugula with boiling water and immediately cool it, this way the color will be preserved and the excess bitterness will go away. I punch the sauce in a blender – the greens will add lightness to the texture.
In the sauce I put fresh cucumber, peeled and chopped into cubes, avocado and cherry tomatoes – before that it would be good to bake them on a baking sheet at low temperature with thyme and garlic – and finally snails, if you wish, you can cut them. A handful of fresh herbs and oil with passionfruit will complete the picture – I add mashed potatoes from this fruit to olive, you can replace passionfruit with ripe mango.
How to make snail pasta?
Casarecce, it seems to me, suits snails – this pasta, when cooked, seems to swell and become plump, casarecce ai frutti di mare – pasta with seafood is popular in the Adriatic, and I am making a version of this dish.Despite the fact that snails have a delicate and special taste, it is good to put instant-fried pancetta here, it will give a smoked flavor, do not forget to put in stewed spinach and toss the dish with finely chopped parmesan. I would recommend young Beaujolais to Cossarecce with snails – both may end before the New Year.
Author: Anna Kovarskaya. 90,000 Aquarium snails. Views. Reproduction.
In this article I want to talk about aquarium snails. These molluscs play an important role in the aquarium.Some snails clean the aquarium soil, some algae growth on the leaves and glass of the aquarium, pick up uneaten food residues. Aquarium snails undoubtedly serve as a decoration for the aquarium. I will begin the description with the most popular and common aquarium snails that every aquarist has, has or will have.
Coil snails are one of the most common snails. Their distribution is simply explained – they are hermaphrodite snails. This means that even one small introduced snail, a coil on a leaf of a plant, is capable of self-fertilization and further reproduction.They lay eggs on plant leaves. Usually, when people see this guest for the first time, they rejoice. In the beginning, when they have not bred, they can really benefit from their stay in the aquarium, they eat up the remnants of uneaten food, but very soon (they multiply very quickly) there are so many of them that they literally fill the aquarium. There is not enough food for everyone and they switch to plants, even destroying hard-leaved echoes. And then the aquarist begins to puzzle, how to get rid of them? The coil snail is quite tenacious.
They lived in my aquarium in which I did not change the water for a very long time, there was no aeration and filtration in it. At least they would have multiplied for themselves and successfully multiplied. There are plenty of algae growing there. If there are no plants in the aquarium, then it is enough to reduce the feeding of the fish. More precisely, make sure that there is almost no food left over that has not been eaten. Lack of food for coil snails will reduce the population. But if there are plants, then it is necessary either to reduce the population artificially, or, preferably, to get rid of them completely.
To reduce the population of snails, the coils are caught by hand. It will not be possible to catch and destroy them completely by hand (I tried it many times, take my word for it :). There are two ways left: chemical, natural. The essence of the first method is that coil snails, however, like all snails (mollusks), do not tolerate copper. Therefore, a special anti-snail preparation containing copper must be added to the aquarium. But! If you have other snails that you want to leave or shrimps, then this method does not work in any way, since they will die too.Remains one of the simplest and not time-consuming processes – to have Helen snails in the aquarium. This is a predatory snail that will gladly destroy all small snails in the aquarium. But there is one more thing – quite useful melania snails will also fall under the “distribution”. A more detailed description of Helen and Melania is below.
Coil snail Coil snail in an aquarium
Fizy snails (fizids) – these snails are not much different from coils in terms of keeping conditions. They are as widespread as coils.Often they are brought into the aquarium together. They are also pretty hard to get rid of, but still easier than the coils, I just caught and threw them away, nullifying the population. Caviar, as well as coils, is laid on plants and glass. Small amounts are good for the aquarium. I will not focus on them. As for me, they differ from the coils only in appearance. When I appear in the aquarium, I immediately try to get rid of them.
Ampularia snails – are one of the most common snails.Quite large – the diameter of the shell reaches 5-7 cm, the width of the shell is about 3 cm. Mostly they are found with a yellow shell (less often dark, striped), the leg is both light and dark. Herbivorous, but can eat up the remains of bloodworms or other live food. They are not suitable for an herbal aquarium, first they will destroy all small-leaved plants, then they will switch to rigid-leaved ones. Ampularia extract oxygen from the water and draw in air above the surface of the water. To do this, they have a kind of “trunk” which they expose above the surface of the water and take in air.For this purpose, the “trunk” of an adult snail can reach 10 cm. It is difficult to accidentally bring the ampullarium into the aquarium. Reproduction is more difficult than that of coils or physical. The eggs are laid above the surface of the water, under a cover glass. In my aquarium, the Ampullaria snail laid eggs once. At first I didn’t even understand what it was. Looking closer, I realized that it was caviar. I read that in order to hatch small ampullary snails from the eggs, you need to maintain a certain humidity, or moisten the eggs. I didn’t do any of this.It’s just that after some time a bunch of small ampularia began to climb around my aquarium. I fed them with scalded lettuce or cucumber. Read more about ampularia in this article.
Ampularia snails Ampularia roe in clutch
Melania snails are gray cone-shaped mollusks. A very common species of snails due to their trouble-free and fast reproduction. They are not demanding to the conditions of detention. They live mainly in the ground. They feed on the remains of food uneaten by fish and undecomposed organic matter.These snails are good for the aquarium. Sellers, talking about their useful functions, certainly advise you to buy them. They constantly move in the soil, improving the circulation of water in it, preventing the soil from caking and souring. But the problem is that they breed too quickly and uncontrollably, and after a short period of time they will crawl all over the bottom and walls of the aquarium in search of food. The appearance of the aquarium suffers from this. Under poor conditions of detention or with a sharp change in water parameters (for example, a change), they tend to the surface of the water.
Since they live in the ground, it is very difficult to get rid of them. You can control the population by constantly catching melania that has crawled out of the ground, but this gets boring pretty quickly. Only prolonged boiling of the soil and restarting the aquarium, or chemistry, helps to completely get rid of them, but other snails, and, most likely, shrimps will also suffer from it. Therefore, I do not recommend starting them, and if you accidentally brought this snail into the aquarium, try to get rid of it immediately. The only acceptable option is to contain melania with Helen snails.The latter will control the population. A more detailed description of these snails can be found here.
Melania snail photo.
Helena snails are predatory snails. These molluscs are the life-savers of the aquarist, as with their help, without the use of unnecessary chemicals and manual trapping, you can get rid of other aquarium snails that multiply uncontrollably and spoil the appearance of the aquarium with their presence. Outwardly, the Helena snail is very similar to melania. Its shell has the same conical shape.But they can be easily distinguished by their color. Helen’s shell is painted in alternating stripes of black and yellow. These snails are almost always in search of food. They cope with coils and fiz without any problems. Melania is a little more difficult, but when they have eaten all the physical and coils after they have eaten, they will switch to melania.
These are now the only snails living in my aquarium. There are no others left, and I keep Helen as a preventive measure for the appearance of other aquarium snails. I also like them because they do not reproduce too quickly and the population can be controlled without problems.To successfully fight other snails, you need to first buy at least 5 pieces of Helen so that they can multiply relatively quickly and cause critical damage to other snails, otherwise other snails will multiply faster than the Helen will eat them. If you are not a fan of coils and fizids, then you should get these snails, as they are also good orderlies. In case of death of a fish or shrimp, they will quickly disassemble them 🙂 They do not encroach on large aquarium snails like ampullia and neretina. Unless if they are completely hungry, but they will not be able to cope with them, they will simply close in shells.
This article will be updated with a description of other species of aquarium snails.