by Piter Kehoma Boll
The year has almost ended, but if you would touch today’s Friday Fellow, it would end for you right now, and without a new year coming.
Living along the coasts of the Indian Ocean, including East Africa, Madagascar, India, West Australia and several archipelagos such as Mascarene Islands and the Philippines, our fellow, Conus tulipa, is popularly known as tulip cone. Despite its beautiful name, however, it is not a nice species to have nearby.
The tulip cone is a species of the genus Conus, predatory sea snails that feed on a variety of animals, such as fish, worms and other mollusks. They capture prey by stinging them with a venomous harpoon that is made of a modified tooth of their radula (tongue). The harpoons are stored in a sack and shot on a nearby prey. Because many species feed on fast moving prey, such as fish, they have a very powerful venom able to kill the target in a few seconds. In some species, including the tulip cone, this powerful venom is strong enough to kill an adult human being.
As with all other venomous species, though, not everything is bad. Several different toxins and other components have been recently isolated from the venom of the tulip cone, many of which may eventually be used to develop new medicines.
– – –
– – –
Alonso, D.; Khalil, Z.; Satkunanthan, N.; Livett, B. G. (2003) Drugs From the Sea: Conotoxins as Drug Leads for Neuropathic Pain and Other Neurological Conditions. Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry, 3: 785–787.
Dutertre, S.; Croker, D.; Daly, N. L., Anderson, Å,.; Muttenhaler, M.; Lumsden, N. G.; Craik, D. J.; Alewood, P. F.; Guillon, G.; Lewis, R. J. (2008) Conopressin-T from Conus tulipa reveals an anatagonist switch in vasopressin-like peptides. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283, 7100–7108.
Hill, J. M.; Alewood, P. F.; Craik, D. J. (2000) Conotoxin TVIIA, a novel peptide from the venom of Conus tulipa. The FEBS Journal, 267 (15): 4649–4657.
Wikipedia. Conus tulipa. Available at < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conus_tulipa >. Access on December 28, 2017.
– – –
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.