The Cone Snail
The cone snail is a marine snail that preys on small marine worms and fish, other mollusks and even other cone snails. There are 600 different species of cone snails typically found in warm seas worldwide, most common in the Indonesian-Pacific area most species live near reefs but some live in the sand as well.
The anatomy of a cone snail if that of any other common snail except for one huge detail: the harpoon. This harpoon, formally know as a toxoglossan radula, is a poison filled barb containing tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin capable of killing humans.
The smaller snails typically use this barb to hunt small marine worms, but larger ones will actually hunt fish. It is in these species, such as the textile cone snail, that human deaths can occur.
The harpoon of the snail is hollow and barbed and sits in the snails throat attached to the radula most of time when it is at rest.
The effect on humans is the fact that like my previous organism that I chose, the Blue ringed Octopus, the cone snail contains venom containing tetrodotoxin that is able to kill you within hours of being bitten or stung. The toxin causes paralysis and loss of vision, and eventually, without help in time, cardiac arrest and death.
The cone snail, unlike some other gastropods, is not edible and for the most part, serves no purpose in the economy except in the field of pain control. some of the venom of cone snails, in small very diluted forms is starting to be used as a natural, prescription painkiller, one is now on the market available for purchase in Australia.
reproduction in the cone snail has not been widely studied, although it appears most of the species of cone snails have separate sexes and have internal fertilization. egg capsules are attached to a substrate such as a rock or piece of kelp and hatch into either veligers (free swimming larvae) or veliconcha (small versions of cone snails)