Functional morphology of the Conus proboscis (Mollusca: Gastropoda)



The extended proboscis of the toxoglossan gastropod Conus may exceed four times its contracted length and 1.5 times the shell length. The proboscis wall consists of cuboidal epidermis and circular, crossed helical and longitudinal muscle layers. Between the proboscis wall and its lumen, free longitudinal muscles and nerves course through haemocoel. A thick layer of connective tissue and columnar epithelium surround the proboscis lumen. In C. Catus, muscle comprises about 70% of the volume of the proboscis (exclusive of its lumen) and haemocoel about 20%, in both moderately extended and contracted states. Differentiation along the length of the proboscis includes gradual replacement of muscle by connective tissue distally in the proboscis wall, and a subapical sphincter muscle that probably prevents back-slippage of the detached radular tooth prior to its use in feeding and aids injection of the tooth into the prey during capture.