Range: C. v. vexillum: Natal to Hawaii and French Polynesia, Japan to Australia; C. v. sumatrensis: Restricted to the N. W. Indian Ocean.

Description: Medium-sized to large, solid to heavy; C. v. vexillum (Pl. 23, Figs.1, 2, 5, 6) larger but lighter than C. v. sumatrensis (Pl. 23, Figs. 3, 4). Last whorl conical or ventricosely conical to broadly or broadly and ventricosely conical; outline convex adapically, almost straight below. Shoulder angulate to rounded. Spire of low to moderate height, often higher in C. v. vexillum; outline straight to slightly convex. Larval shell of 3.5-5.5 whorls, maximum diameter 0.8-0.9 mm. First 0.25-2.5 postnuclear whorls tuberculate. Teleoconch sutural ramps flat, with 2-3 increasing to about 10 often punctate spiral grooves. Last whorl with weak spiral ribs at base.

Shell Morphometry
  L 65-183 mm
  RW 0.42-1.26 g/mm
     ((L 65-134))
  RD 0.58-0.72
  PMD 0.82-0.89
  RSH 0.07-0.17

C. v. vexillum: Ground colour white. Last whorl brown except for a variably broad white spiral band at centre, and another at shoulder, often interrupted and sometimes absent. Overlying wavy dark brown streaks and closely spaced coarse to fine lines extend from base to shoulder. Base dark brown. Larval whorls yellow. Early postnuclear sutural ramps yellow or olive. Late sutural ramps with greyish to blackish brown radial blotches on white ground. Aperture white. C. v. sumatrensis: Last whorl with blackish brown axial streaks and flames, and with fine less densely spaced axial lines, frequently consisting of close-set minute dots and often variably reduced. Spiral colour zones lighter brown than in C. v. vexillum, sometimes reduced; white bands always distinct. Base white to tan, variably covered with minute brown dots. Small juveniles (10 mm or less) of C. v. vexillum (Pl. 23, Figs. 5, 6) yellow or olive. During growth, colour changes to brown. White ground appears gradually in adults. Small specimens with spirally arrayed, minute brown dots on spire and at base, sometimes over entire last whorl. During growth, dots become arranged into axial rows, clustered at base and so closely spaced as to produce solid lines. Center of last whorl transitionally with 1-2 spiral rows of brown spots. Larger subadults often with dark brown axial streaks, similar to C. v. sumatrensis adults. Juveniles of C. v. sumatrensis also yellow; axial streaks and flames are retained in adults.

Periostracum yellowish olive to dark brown, thin to thick, and translucent to opaque, smooth or rough, sometimes with widely spaced spiral rows of fine tufts on last whorl including shoulder (Kohn, 1959a, 1978: Cernohorsky, 1964; Kilburn & Rippey, 1982).

In C. v. vexillum, foot yellow-green to greenish black, may grade to black at sides. Dorsum of foot may bear a dotted black pre-marginal line fusing with a black blotch beneath the operculum and a black transverse band at anteriorend: median zone either rather uniformly patterned with radial rows of dark brown dots or grading from brown toward a blackish green anterior blotch. Sole of foot with reticulated black lines. Hawaiian juveniles with a yellow foot. Rostrum nearly black. Tentacles grey to black. Siphon dark green or dark grey to black, sometimes edged with yellowish green (Pl. 75. Fig. 40: Pl. 80, Second row. right) (Kohn, 1959a. unpubl. observ.; Kohn & Weaver, 1962: Chaberman, pers. comm., 1981; Pearson. unpubl. observ.). In C. v. sumatrensis, foot brown with black markings. Siphon yellow, mottled with black distally (Fainzilber et al., 1992).

Radular teeth slender and elongate, with a small adapical barb opposite a blade; serration extends about 2/3 the length down the shaft ending in a cusp (Peile, 1939; Barnard, 1958; Kohn, unpubl. observ.). Bandel (1984) depicted a tooth for C. v. sumatrensis (Port Sudan, Red Sea) with a large second barb instead of a blade and with a basal spur.

Habitat and Habits: C. v. vexillumintertidal to 70 m: juveniles on intertidal benches. larger individuals on subtidal reefs from the infralittoral fringe to about 30 m and to 50-70 m (Hawaii). It is reported from shallow water. lagoon pinnacles, on sand, sand with gravel, among weed or rocks and under dead coral (Kohn, 1959a, b; Kohn & Weaver, 1962; Cernohorsky, 1964; Estival, I981: Kilburn & Rippey, 1982; Grosch, pers. comm., 1989: Richards, pers. comm., 1989). C. v. sumatrensis in 1-4 m on rocks and reef flats with algal turf (Sharabati, 1984; Fainzilber, 1985: Fainzilber et al., 1992). C. v. vexillum feeds on eunicid polychaetes (Kohn. 1959b). Oviposition takes place under coral heads. Egg capsules of 20-3 1 x 13-21 mm deposited in irregular dense clusters and affixed to the substratum by confluent basal plates. An egg mass consists of about 35 capsules each containing 34,500 to 53,500 eggs. Egg diameter of 130-143 ┬Ám predicts a minimum pelagic period of about 28 days (Ostergaard, 1950: Kohn, 1961a: Perron, 1981a, b; Perron & Kohn, 1985).

Discussion: C. v. sumatrensis closely resembles C. capitaneus, C. mustelinus, C. namocanus and C. miles; for distinctions, see the Discussions of those species. We separate C. v. vexillum into two subspecies. because of constant differences in shell morphometry and colour pattern between populations from the N. W. Indian Ocean (C. v. sumatrensis) and those throughout the rest of the species range (C. v. sumatrensis). C. princes and C. leopardus refer to C. v. sumatrensis. Yellow juvenile specimens of C. v. vexillum have been described as C. sulphuratus and C. robillardi was based on a brown subadult shell.

Range Map Image

C. vexillum range map

This section contains verbatim reproductions of the accounts of 316 species of Conus from the Indo-Pacific region, from Manual of the Living Conidae, by R÷ckel, Korn and Kohn (1995). They are reproduced with the kind permission of the present publisher, Conchbooks.

All plates and figures referred to in the text are also in R÷ckel, Korn & Kohn, 1995. Manual of the Living Conidae Vol. 1: Indo-Pacific Region.

The range maps have been modified so that each species account has it own map, rather than one map that showed the ranges of several species in the original work. This was necessary because each species account is on a separate page on the website and not confined to the order of accounts in the book.