Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Deadly Cone Snails [Videos]

I went to a lovely lecture last night at Lewis & Clark on cone snails and I must share some awesome videos of cone snails attacking fish. The lecturer was Dr. Toto Olivera of the University of Utah. If you missed the lecture, luckily he has a very similar lecture uploaded online here if you have some free time and want to learn more. You could also explore his website,, which is highly informative and easy to understand.

Cone snails are venomous, predatory mollusks. Depending on the species, they will hunt either fish, worms, or other mollusks. The fish-hunting cone snails have evolved two different fish hunting techniques: hook-and-line fishing and net-fishing, as seen in these videos:

In addition to using different techniques, these two different hunters also use different types of toxins on their prey. The hook-and-line fishers use strong excitotoxins which cause stiff paralysis (its like the fish version of a taser). The net-fishers use sedative toxins, effectively drugging the fish with opiates as they are being engulfed by the snail.

More on cone-snail predation:

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