Conus geographus

Conus geographus

Geography cone, Geographer cone

Conus geographus
g oz 
mm inch 

Conus geographus, popularly called the geography cone or the geographer cone, is a species of predatory cone snail. It lives in reefs of the tropical Indo-Pacific, and hunts small fish. Although all cone snails hunt and kill prey using venom, the venom of this species is potent enough to kill humans.

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The variety Conus geographus var. rosea G. B. Sowerby I, 1833 is a synonym of Conus eldredi Morrison, 1955.

This species is the type species of :

  • Gastridium Modeer, 1793
  • Rollus Montfort, 1810
  • Utriculus Schumacher, 1817

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C. geographus has a broad, thin shell, cylindrically inflated. Geography cones grow to about 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) in length. The size of an adult shell varies between 43 and 166 mm (1.7 and 6.5 in). The ground color of the shell is pink or violaceous white, occasionally reddish. It has a mottled appearance, clouded and coarsely reticulated with chestnut or chocolate, usually forming two very irregular bands. This intricate brown-and-white pattern is highly prized by shell collectors.

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The geography cone has a wide, violaceous white or pink aperture and numerous shoulder ridges or spines. The shell is covered with thread-like revolving striae, usually nearly obsolete except at the base. The flattened spire is striated and coronated.

In comparison with other species, the shell has a noticeably wider and convex mid-body, with a flattened spire. Its walls are also noticeably thinner and lighter compared to other cone shells of similar length and size.

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Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

C. geographus is a piscivore that dwells in sediment of shallow reefs, preying on small fish. It releases a venomous cocktail into the water in order to stun its prey. Like the other cone snails, it fires a harpoon-like, venom-tipped modified tooth into its prey; the harpoon is attached to the body by a proboscis, and the prey is pulled inside for ingestion.


The geography cone snail is highly dangerous; live specimens should be handled with extreme caution. C. geographus has the most toxic sting known among Conus species and there are reports for about three dozen human fatalities in 300 years. The venom has an LD50 toxicity in of 0.012-0.030 mg/kg. The venom of Geography Cone Snail is a complex mix of hundreds of different toxins that is delivered through toxoglossan radula, a harpoon-like tooth propelled from an extendable proboscis. There is no antivenom for a cone snail sting, and treatment consists of keeping victims alive until the toxins wear off. The geography cone is also known colloquially as the "cigarette snail", a gallows humor exaggeration implying that, when stung by this creature, the victim will have only enough time to smoke a cigarette before dying. In reality, even the most venomous cone snails take about one to five hours to kill a healthy human, though medical care must still be prompt as, without it, death is almost certain.

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Among the compounds found in cone snail venom are proteins which, when isolated, have great potential as pain-killing drugs. Research shows that certain component proteins of the venom target specific human pain receptors and can be up to 10,000 times more potent than morphine without morphine's addictive properties and side-effects. Conantokin-G is a toxin derived from the venom of C. geographus. Only 15-20 of the venom's 100-200 toxic peptides are used for feeding. It is believed that the other compounds are defensive, and that the venom is mainly used for defense.

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Diet and Nutrition

Mating Habits

2 to 3 days
1000 to 5000
15 to 25 days



1. Conus geographus Wikipedia article -
2. Conus geographus on The IUCN Red List site -

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