Venomous marine snails

Most snails are harmless but some families are capable of injecting a venom-filled dart (a modification of the radula teeth) to kill or paralyse their prey. These snails include cones (Conidae), turrids (Turridae and allies) and augers (Terebridae). The best known of these are the cone snails for they include species which have caused human injuries and even fatalities. Ironically, the raw venoms of cone snails are now of considerable pharmaceutical importance, critical to the development of drugs used in surgery and pain relief.

Left to right - shells of a turrid (Lophiotoma indica), cone snail (Conus striatus) and auger snail (Terebra subulata). These represent three families of the venomous Conoidea group of marine snails. Longest shell shown 90mm. Left to right - shells of a turrid (Lophiotoma indica), cone snail (Conus striatus) and auger snail (Terebra subulata). These represent three families of the venomous Conoidea group of marine snails. Longest shell shown 90mm.

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