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Have You Seen the Snail That Captures Fish by Shooting a 'Harpoon-Like Spear?

"Their venom -- and the way they deliver it -- is the most interesting thing."

Snails are often underrated as predators because they are slow-moving, but this cone snail has a surprising edge that allows it to catch agile fish while it hides out in the sand.

BBC reports that Conus geographus -- the most venomous of the 640 poisonous species in the genus -- shoots prey with a "harpoon-like spear" that contains more than 200 known toxins.

BBC has more from Howard Peters as he explains how the snail targets and kills its prey:

"Their venom -- and the way they deliver it -- is the most interesting thing," he explains.

"What they tend to do is bury themselves in the sand and then use their sensors to detect when a sizeable fish comes along.

"They manufacture and store little hollow harpoons in a sac in their body, and they have another sac which synthesises venom."

At this point, the snail "loads" the dart with venom and shoots its prey. BBC reports that the dart is used only once and the snail will eat it along with the prey.

Watch a cone snail shoot and eat a goatfish:

BBC goes on to note that the biomedical field has been researching the use of cone snail toxins as a pain-killer due to their nerve-blocking capabilities, as well as in potential treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Each cone snail species has an average 100 toxins, which BBC reports adds up to 50,000 different toxins in the genus.

[H/T GeekOSystem]

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