We rarely think of what life must be like as a snail, particularly if you needed to catch your food but wandered at the notoriously slow snail’s pace. Luckily, the geographic cone snail, has its own answer to the problem – drugging its dinner before eating it. You may be surprised at the idea of a predatory, or even a carnivorous snail, but the Conus geographus, has already earned something of a fearsome reputation among scuba divers visiting the tropics, where it delivers a nasty sting to anyone who tries to steal its beautifully formed shells. Indeed, it is the most venomous known cone snail in the world, responsible for the deaths of several divers.
Recently, the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences was able to pinpoint the precise attack plane that these cone snails employ: releasing a toxic cloud, almost like an ink cloud, but full of insulin, at fish who cross its path on the ocean floor, both potential prey as well as would-be attackers. The insulin reacts with the fish’s blood sugar levels, and render it into the equivalent of a diabetic coma.
“It looks like the fish is completely narced,” said Christopher Meyer, an expert who studies these mollusks at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
After the fish slips into the sugar coma, what follows is like a scenario from a horror movie. The cone snail makes us of a cone shaped muscle called a false-mouth, which gradually envelopes the entire fish, dragging the creature into its mouth. Once inside, the animal is stung once again with another set of toxins, rendering it paralyzed. Although it sounds morbid, the animal may give researchers some insight to the properties of insulin development that can revolutionize medicine.
You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UHiGuquJmpE