Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Cone Snail (Conus) ((coolest snail in the world)

The Cone Snail (Conus) ((Coolest snail in the world)) BY ZACHARY KAYE





Introduction: The Conus, or Cone Snail, is classified under the kingdom Animalia, the phylum of mullusca, and the class of gastropoda. Conus is a large genus of small to large predatory sea snails and marine gastropod molluscs. Conus snails are mostly tropical in division. They are all venomous, although some are more then others. There are over 600 different species of cone snails. They are typically found in warm and tropical seas and oceans worldwide, and reach their greatest diversity in the Western Indo-Pacific Region. However, some species of Conus are adapted to temperate environments, such as the Cape coast of South Africa, or the cool waters of southern California (Conus californicus) and are endemic to these areas.
Anatomy:



The snails body anatomy consists of:
1) Proboscis. The proboscis is the cone snail’s hunting tool. Venom is injected into prey by a harpoon loaded into this long thin tube. The proboscis can extend longer than twice the size of the snail.
2) Siphon. The snail’s siphon is similar to a nose. It is a long extendable tube that can detect its prey in the surrounding waters. It also directs water to the gills to help with respiration.
3) Eye Stalks - Cone snails have a pair of eyes, located on either side of their mouth. We do not know how well cone snails can see, or whether there is enough light in some deeper habitats to make it worthwhile.
4) Mouth - A cone snail has a huge extendable mouth. It extends outwards to engulf its prey. A muscle contracts to bring the mouth back into its shell.
5) Foot - A long muscular foot extends to allow the snail to move along surfaces.

Form and Function: Eating Habits: Cone snails are carnivorous, and predatory. They hunt and eat prey such as marine worms, small fish, mollusks, and even other cone snails. Because cone snails are slow-moving, they use a venomous harpoon (called a toxoglossan radula) to capture faster-moving prey such as fish. The venom of a few larger species, especially the piscivorous ones, is powerful enough to kill a human being. The Cone Snail also burrows itself under the sand not only to wait for food, but to hide and protect itself from predators.


Video of Cone Snail catching prey:

http://outlook.seacrest.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMOSvz5mThM%26feature=player_embedded

Reproduction: The females eggs are fertilized internally by the males sperm. The textile cone’s egg capsules contain 500-700 eggs each. The capsules are laid under rocks, and very few survive. The few eggs that survive to hatch do so in about 16-17 days. The larvae remain pelagic for about 16 days, and then settle onto substrate. At this time they are about 1.5 mm (0.06 in) in length.

Impact on the world/humanity: The largest impact on the world that the cone snail has is the neurotoxins that it produces. They are used to make medicine that treat neuropathic pain. Less then 1% of the 500 species have been studied, and scientist believe that this amazing animal has the potential to treat Parkinson’s disease and depression.

Journal/Article Review: http://www.spacecoastmedicine.com/2009/11/cone-snail-venom-effective-remedy-for-pain.html
The summary of this article is that the neurotoxins created by the cone snail have been turned into a pain medicine called Prialt. It is approved by the FDA and is used for neuropathic pain. Some of the neurotoxins made are 1000 times more powerful then morphine. Because our digestive enzymes would break these toxins apart, they are injected directly into our spinal canal.



Bibliography: http://outlook.seacrest.org/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/full_description/textile_cone_snail/
http://www.theconesnail.com/
http://www.spacecoastmedicine.com/2009/11/cone-snail-venom-effective-remedy-for-pain.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cone_snail

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