Cone snails seduce prey with pheromones

This snail has a venom cocktail that includes similar chemicals to those that worms use to mate...
17 March 2021
Presented by Chris Smith, Phil Sansom
Production by Phil Sansom.


The cone snail Conus imperialis.


Cone snails are a group of highly venomous marine snails. Their shells are beautiful, but they pack a powerful neurotoxic punch: some members of this family are so poisonous that they can easily kill a person, and often a sting provokes a sensation of profound fear in the victim. But one species of cone snail, called Conus imperialis, produces a very different reaction in the worms they hunt. This snail has a venom cocktail that includes pheromones: it uses similar chemicals to the ones the worms give off when mating. Why make a worm aphrodisiac? And how do you figure that out in the first place? Phil Sansom spoke to Joshua Torres from the University of Copenhagen about these strange creatures…


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