If you think of a snail
As slow and mild;
Meet Ms Cone:
Who's venomous and wild!
Cones are among the prettiest of snails with elegantly shaped, vividly coloured shells. But they are a far cry from the popular image of snails as gentle creatures. For Cones are the cobras of the sea, equipped with a series of hollow harpoon-shaped teeth connected to a tubular poison gland ending in a muscular pumping organ. Not only can they shoot these venom darts, some even fire a fine jet of poison like a spitting cobra at their worm, snail or fish prey.
Most species of Cones dwell in crevices on coral reefs, or lie buried in the sands of the warm Indo-Pacific seas. Their poisons inhibit the flow of nerve impulses to the muscles, and are today being vigorously investigated by the pharmaceutical industry. Indeed, looking for economic products from sea animals is very much in fashion now. This is of great relevance to India, for while South America surpasses South Asia in the diversity of life on land, Indo-Pacific seas are the world's greatest treasure trove of the diversity of marine life.
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