Meal Time

When it comes to meal time Conus magus is an extremely picky eater. Like all other species in the genus Conus, the Magician's Cone Snail is carnivorous, or a meat eater. More specifically it is piscivorous, meaning it eats only fish; not just any fish, it sticks to a few certain species.  

 Below image provided by © 2011 Guido & Philippe Poppe -

 With its average speed of 0.43 millimeters per second the cone snail has had to develop a way of hunting prey that allows it to catch fast moving fish. The Magician's Cone Snail hunts in a "hook-and-line" method with the help of its modified radula, the proboscis. In this way of capturing prey the snail begins with searching the surrounding waters with its siphon, an organ similar to a nose that intakes water and directs it over its gills to help with respiration. As soon as prey is detected the long tube shaped proboscis is extended. Within the proboscis is a harpoon-like structure that contains venom. As soon as the proboscis comes in contact with a fish, the harpoon, that has become coated with venom, is released into the prey. The mixture of conotoxins in the venom causes the prey to quickly jerk for a few seconds but then become completely stiff and immobile. The snail can then slowly retract the proboscis and pull the fish into its mouth with no worry of being injured or losing its prey.

Once the process of capturing the prey and ingesting it into its mouth is accomplished, digestion happens in the same manner as the rest of the species within the class of Gastropoda. All snails have a complete digestive system, therefore, the ingested fish travels to the stomach, where it is digested, then through the intestines, where nutrients are absorbed, and finally exits through the anus located at the anterior, or head, region of the snail, above the mouth.

Not only do cone snail's have a complete digestive system, they also have a circulatory system that transports oxygen and other items throughout its body. In these snails the circulatory system is open, meaning that the blood vessels carrying the transport fluid, hemolymph, open up into cavities at certain places throughout the system. In these openings the hemolymph mixes with water, taken up through the gills. The hemolymph dumps carbon dioxide waste product here and picks up oxygen to be carried throughout the rest of the body. With this type of system there is very low pressure within the vessels which creates a slow circulation of hemolyphe. This is an important factor in why snails are typically extremely slow moving.

The proboscis and venom-filled harpoon are not only helpful in capturing prey but also as a medicinal use. To learn more about its use as a pain reliever go to Dr. Conus magus.

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                                                                                                                        Created by Kayla Haas, BIO 203                        To Check out other organism websites visit                            University of Wisconsin-La Crosse