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Cone snails are for life and not just at Christmas
Date:12/23/2013

ple who hunt for shells for sale to dealers and tourists.

More importantly, during their evolution, cone snails have developed complex venoms, some powerful enough to kill people. Scientists are now using these for research into novel drugs for the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of pernicious medical conditions including intense chronic pain, epilepsy, asthma and multiple sclerosis.

Lead author, Howard Peters, of the Environment Department at York, says: "Cone snails are seeing rapid shrinkage of their habitats as human impacts multiply. We found that 67 species are currently threatened or near-threatened with extinction worldwide, but this rises to nearly half of all species (42) in the Eastern Atlantic, where there is an extraordinary concentration of range-restricted species. In Cape

Verde, 53 species are found nowhere else in the world of which 43 live only around single islands. Here, pollution and shoreline construction for the expanding tourist industry threaten their existence. Sand is being dredged from the shallows where cone snails live to make concrete for resorts, harbours and cruise liner terminals. Collection of shells by divers and snorkelers could hasten their demise."

The study found an almost complete lack of protection for cone snails anywhere in the world. Howard Peters says: "Despite their extraordinary beauty and value, cone snails have fallen completely underneath the conservation radar. These snails need swift action to protect their habitats and publicise the dire consequences of irresponsible shell collecting of the most threatened species. Holidaymakers need to think twice before taking a seashell home as a souvenir."


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Contact: David Garner
david.garner@york.ac.uk
44-019-043-22153
University of York
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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