Conus is a large genus of small to large predatory sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs, with the common names of cone snails, cone shells or cones. This genus is in the subfamily Coninae within the family Conidae. Geologically speaking, the genus is known from the Eocene to the Recent periods. Conus snails are mostly tropical in distribution. They are all venomous to one degree or another. The larger species hunt fish using harpoon-like teeth and a poison gland. The smaller ones hunt and eat marine worms.
Conus species have shells that are shaped more or less like geometric cones. Many species have colorful patterning on the shell surface.
Live cone snails should be handled with care or not handled at all, as they are capable of "stinging" humans with unpleasant results. The sting of small cones is no worse than a bee sting, but the sting of a few of the larger species of tropical cone snails can be serious, and has even occasionally been fatal to human beings.
Cone venom shows great promise as a source of new, medically important substances.