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Conus papilliferus (Family Conidae)

Papillose Cone Shell


The Papillose Cone Shell has an eastern Australian distribution. It ranges from Bowen, north-east Qld, through NSW to Mallacoota, eastern Vic (QLD, NSW, VIC).


The shell of the Papillose Cone Shell is an inverted cone, with a low spire and tiny erect apex, and a very strongly angled shoulder. It grows to a length of 40mm. Its sculpture consists of faint spiral striations or cords. The body whorl has slightly convex sides. The shell aperture is long and narrow, with its lips being almost parallel. The anal notch occurs at the shoulder, while the siphonal notch is fairly deep. The small vestigial operculum is oval in shape. The shell is covered with a thin, sometimes furry periostracum.

The shell colour is whitish with variable blue-grey blotches, covered with irregular, axially arranged brown blotches, and rows of alternating brown and white dots. Inside the shell is violet to brown.

Ecology/Way of Life:

The Papillose Cone Shell is fairly common in shallow water, being found under stones on intertidal rock platforms.

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species is extremely variable in form, or existing photographs in reference books are incorrect. The example in Jansen (2000) has a very flattened spire and a large body whorl. It looks most unlike the photographs in Wilson (1993) which have a gently sloping spire, while Wilson's photos of Conus anemone are similar to Jansen's photo of Conus papilliferus. Wilson mentions that there are problems with the various forms of C. anemone. Although this species seems to be fairly common in shallow water, it is not known if this species is under threat from human activities.

Other Comments:

Conus papilliferus, Sowerby, 1834. The word conus comes from the Greek word konos, meaning a cone-like object. Papilliferus is made up of the Latin word papula, meaning a minute elevation of the skin, or warty in appearance.

Further Reading:

Davey, K. (1998) A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p.116, New Holland Press, Sydney.

Jansen, P. (2000), Seashells of South-East Australia. p.64, Capricornia Publications.

Jones, D. & Morgan, G. (1994). A Field Guide to Crustaceans of Australian waters. Reed.

Wilson, B. (1993) Australian Marine Shells. Prosobranch gastropods. p.212, plate 49. Odyssey Publishing.

Wilson, B. R. & Gillett, K. (1979). A Field Guide to Australian Shells: Prosobranch Gastropods. p.248, Reed.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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