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  • José H. Leal

Shell of the Week: The Crown Cone

Conus regius is one of the most common species of cone snails present along the east coast of Florida and the Keys. Reaching circa 75 mm (3 inches) in height, the shell has a spire adorned with small knobs that impart the look of a crown to the “top” of the shell. The color patterns are variable, with most specimens showing a combination of broad brown spiral bands and brownish flecks set on a white background.

Conus regius, Sugarloaf Key, Florida. Illustration: Patricia A. Starkey.

Some specimens, however, can be paler, with yellow-brown markings and sometimes almost devoid of them. Crown Cones feed on worms. The venom of the species is considered as one of the cone venoms having the most different conotoxins combined and is regarded as one of the most potent antagonists of acetylcholine in the vertebrate brain, thus serving as a template for the synthesis of effective painkilling drugs. The species is found from the east coast of Florida south to eastern Brazil. 

Conus regius, Key Largo, Florida. Illustration: Patricia A. Starkey.


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