Rayed Cone Snails ~ Findings and Lucky Finds
Posted by Jody on February 6, 2012
The Rayed Cone snail (Conus radiatus) is a delightful find, but only if you find the empty seashell. If you find a live one, you would be well advised to leave this marine snail alone! A member of the Conidae family of venomous marine gastropod mollusks, the rayed cone snail is found in the waters of the Central Indo-Pacific seas. They vary in length from a little over an inch to near 8 1/4 inches.
The Marine Biological Laboratory publication, “Of Mollusks and Men,” describes the fierce cone snails this way: “When the snails are close enough to their prey, most species shoot out a tiny harpoon that instantly paralyzes the prey with venom. The snail moves in, opens its flexible snout, and pulls its meal into its stomach. Cone snails come in about 500 varieties and are found mainly in the shallow waters of coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific Oceans. Of the 60 or so fish-eating cone snails, which have the most potent venom, at least two have a sting that can be fatal to humans.”
The Marine Biological Laboratory, located on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is “an international center for research, education, and training in biology, biomedicine, and ecology.” Scientists there are using the venom of cone snails as a tool in the investigation of blood disorders. In “Of Mollusks and Men“, the author explains, “Hidden within the fleshy body of the beautiful snail lies a potent venom that the carnivorous creature uses to help capture its prey. It turns out that this same venom is becoming an increasingly useful tool for several areas of biomedical research, including hematology-the study of blood.” I highly recommend reading this short article. It really is quite interesting!
I didn’t find my rayed cone seashells beachcombing on the countless beaches of the Philippines. I didn’t collect them on the alluring shores of Papua New Guinea. Nor did I discover them on the white coral sands of Fiji. Nowhere quite so exotic, actually. I found my fabulous assortment of rayed cone seashells in the local thrift store! One man’s trash really is another man’s treasure! I snagged a 4″ Styrofoam ball covered with 50 gorgeous rayed cones! Someone had taken the trouble of using a hot glue gun to cement their beautiful beach treasures to the gold painted ball. I’m in the process of removing the rayed cone shells and cleaning off the glue. I don’t know yet what I’ll do with all of them. For now, I’m certainly enjoying bragging rights!
Have a great day beach treasure hunting, wherever you may be!
*You might also be interested in reading “Cone Snails: Beautiful Shells but Dangerous Animals.”*