There can be no death in the animal kingdom so simultaneously horrifying, pathetic and hilarious than just getting swallowed whole head first by a big snail while you’re fucking sleeping
I like how this hearkens back to some of the most primitive single-celled predators: you just fucking engulf the entire other animal, glomp.
There are so many cool things to talk about with cone snails and their predation habits that this only brushes the surface of it!
Cone snails are nocturnal predators with some really impressive chemical weapons at their command – they not only paralyze their prey but are thought to release chemicals into the water to help calm prey before they even attack. Each type of cone snail is super
super-specialized for the type of prey they go after and how they hunt. Some snails are vermivores that hunt and eat worms, some snails are molluscivores that eat other shellfish, and some (like this one) are piscavores who hunt and eat fish. All cone snails use toxins to immobilize their prey and assist with the hunt, but what’s incredible is that within the piscavore cone snails there are two separate sub-groups – they hunt differently and utilize different types of venom.
Most fish-eating cone snails paralyze their prey by sticking them with an envenomed “harpoon” they extend out from their body – once the prey is stuck, they reel it back toward their body and then engulf it. The conotoxin mixture used in this hunting method paralyzes the fish in a rigid posture so it can be reeled back to the snail without risk of injury or escape.
Some piscavores, though, use a ‘net feeding’ technique like what is seen in this video.
It’s often used to engulf multiple small fish, but the snail in this video is using it to grab a prey item much larger than itself. Once the prey is mostly in the snail’s net, it is jabbed with a “harpoon” carrying conotoxins that paralyze them in a relaxed posture so they can be more effectively swallowed.
For more information about the incredible that is cone snails and some great videos, go to The Cone Snail. (Hunting snail images are sourced from one of their great articles).