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  • José H. Leal

Shell of the Week: The "Hollow" Alphabet Cones

The photo shows two shells of Alphabet Cone, Conus spurius Gmelin, 1791, that have been clipped by predators, most likely Stone or Flame crabs. The resulting gashes reveal that the earlier whorls, located inside the shell, have disappeared. Some cone snails, as other gastropods do, are known to dissolve their internal shell structures. One of the ensuing benefits, in particular to cones snails that feed on fish or mollusks, is that the new, roomier internal space enables the animal to swallow larger prey. In addition, some cone species are known to recycle the dissolved shell material to reinforce and thicken the outer shell wall. The shells in the photos were found by Lorin Buckner at the Blind Pass area of Sanibel, in December 2018.


Two Alphabet Cone shells with self-dissolved shell insides. Photos by José H. Leal.