Cone (added 25 Jan 99) [85K]

This is a close view of the "business end" of a venomous cone. Many of these creatures are capable of inflicting potentially fatal neurotoxin stings. Three species that are known killers are the Geographic Cone (Conus geographus) the Textile Cone (Conus textile), and the Tulip Cone (Conus tulipus) though around twenty cones are known to be dangerous to humans. The bottom line is, avoid handing cone shells! They may look attractive, but many are capable of inflicting a fatal sting capable of penetrating gloves, clothing, or even a thin wetsuit. Handling venomous cones only by the blunt end is not entirely safe, especially without heavy gloves, since the stinging apparatus may strike quickly in any direction.

Cones normally feed on fish, worms or snails. They may grow to over six inches in length, and may be found under rocks, under coral, or crawling across the sand. In this photo, the long upper tube-like projection is the siphon, and immediately below the siphon is the proboscis (mouth). A small harpoon-shaped barb called the radula is extended from the extended proboscis into the victim, and venom is injected. The proboscis expands around the victim and the cone swallows the victim whole. The two long extensions on either side of the proboscis are the tentacles, each with an eye on the end.

For a full side view of a live cone, visit dive instructor Dennis Vine's web site and look for the cone picture in his photo gallery. For complete information on cone shells and their potential danger to humans, visit the Cone Shell and Conotoxins Homepage. I have also provided some other useful links below.

After much discussion of the identity of this particular cone with numerous shell collectors and conchologists from various corners of the globe, I am convinced the identity of this cone is Conus striatus. This species is highly venomous and closely resembles the infamous Conus geographus.

Conus striatus

more links:

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