Cone snails have multiple venoms

Cone snails can rapidly switch between venoms depending on whether they are hunting or defending themselves, a study has found.

Cone snails are a species of predatory sea snail with high levels of paralytic toxins that can block muscle nerves and potentially kill humans.

In the study, cone snails were encouraged to sting prey and to defend themselves against an imitated predator. The venom was then collected and analysed using advanced mass spectrometry techniques.

Lead researcher Professor Richard Lewis, from the University of Queensland, said it was the first time anyone has proved that a venomous animal used different venoms for hunting and defending, adding that the discovery could lead to new treatments for chronic pain in humans.

Read more at The University of Queensland