The Neogastropoda: Evolutionary Innovations of Predatory Marine Snails with Remarkable Pharmacological Potential

  • Maria Vittoria Modica
  • Mandë Holford


The Neogastropoda include many familiar molluscs, such as cone snails (Conidae), purple dye snails (Muricidae), mud snails (Nassariidae), olive snails (Olividae), oyster drills (Muricidae), tulip shells (Fasciolariidae), and whelks (Buccinidae). Due to their amazing predatory specializations, neogastropods are often dominant members of the benthic community at the top of the food chain. In a dazzling display that ranges from boring holes to darting harpoons, neogastropods have developed several prey hunting innovations with specialized compounds pharmaceutical companies could only dream about. It has been hypothesized that evolutionary innovations related to feeding were the main drivers of the rapid neogastropod radiation in the late Cretaceous. The anatomical, behavioral, and biochemical specializations of neogastropod families that are promising targets in drug discovery and development are addressed within an evolutionary framework in this chapter.


Salivary Gland Venom Gland Venom Peptide Marine Snail Cone Snail 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank Marco Oliverio for invaluable advice and helpful comments on the manuscript. Yuri Kantor, Alisa Kosyan, Gregory Herbert, Paolo Mariottini, Marco Oliverio, and Guido and Philippe Poppe are acknowledged for images used in the figures. MH acknowledges support from NIH grant GM088096-01.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Biologia Animale e dell’Uomo“La Sapienza”, University of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.The City University of New York – York College & Graduate Center, and The American Museum of Natural HistoryNYUSA

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