DSC_9964This month we have two large cones which are almost opposites. Both are favorites of collectors and artists alike. Any still life of shells is likely to include one or both!

Conus marmoreous is one of the classic shells described in Linnaeus’s monumental 1758 “Systemtema Naturae.” The marbled cone is about the most striking of all shells, black in color covered with uniformly sized white tents. It has an elegant ice cream cone shape. Younger shells up to about 60mm are especially beautiful with a high gloss but as the shells grow in size the surface changes from waxy to dull.  Conus marmoreous is predatory, living on other molluscs and inhabits the coral reefs in shallow waters across the Indo-Pacific range. This specimen is a larger shell of about 100mm.
Conus Leopardus was named by Roding in 1798. The shell has a cream colored waxy surface and is uniformly banded, top to bottom, with evenly sized and spaced black spots. Sadly larger specimens tend to loose the regularity of pattern making most specimens over 120mm less attractive. The leopard cone is one of the largest growing up to 200mm. Giant specimens today are quite rare and then they look like they have gone to war and lost, having lost their spots, turned chalky, and are marred by irregularly spaced growth lines plus heavy spire and body erosion. Conus leopardus too is predatory and is found across the entire Indo-Pacific range. Our specimen is small for a leopardus but is quite attractive and clean.
Both specimens are from the Philippines and were collected by local divers in sand pockets, inside coral reefs and in shallow water.