Tower of Babel (Linnaeus, 1758)
This species belongs to the most biodiverse group of marine snails known, the turrids. It is presently believed that are 3,000 different species of turrids that have been described and probably at least 10,000 more that have not yet been described. Thus, the turrids are an enormous component of the total biodiversity of marine snails in tropical oceans. One reason so many have not yet been described is because many are relatively small (less than ¼ inch in size) and in addition, live in deep water. As a result new turrids are constantly being discovered, as the methods for exploring the bottom of the tropical oceans become more sophisticated.
The turrids are related to the cone snails and put together in a larger group that used to be called Toxoglossa (meaning “poison tongue”). This is because all of these snails use venom to capture their prey, which are other marine animals. This species, Turris babylonia, feeds on marine worms that are related to earthworms (which are characterized by being highly segmented). Turris babylonia is one of the few turrid species that can be found in shallow water.
While quite a lot of work has been done on the venom components of cone snails, practically no research work has been done on the venoms of turrids, despite the fact that there are so many different kinds. However, the little research available on these venoms makes it clear that each different type of turrid will have different components in its venom. Thus, although this is a group of snails that is not well understood at the present time, the turrids such as the Tower of Babel included in this collection, are a potentially important pharmacological resource whose venom components may provide very novel natural products that have high pharmacological activity in the future.
Species Turris babylonia