The Full Wiki

Mongolian Death Worm: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An interpretation of the Mongolian Death Worm by Belgian painter Pieter Dirkx

The Mongolian Death Worm (Mongolian: олгой-хорхой, olgoi-khorkhoi, "large intestine worm") is a cryptid purported to exist in the Gobi Desert. It is generally considered a cryptozoological creature; one whose sightings and reports are disputed or unconfirmed.

It is described as a bright red worm with a wide body that is 2 to 5 feet (0.6 to 1.5 m) long.[1][2]

The Worm is the subject of a number of extraordinary claims by Mongolian locals - such as the ability of the worm to spew forth sulfuric acid that, on contact, will turn anything it touches yellow and corroded (which would kill a human),[3] and its purported ability to kill at a distance by means of electric discharge.

Though natives of the Gobi have long told tales of the olgoi-khorkhoi, the creature first came to Western attention as a result of Professor Roy Chapman Andrews' 1926 book On the Trail of Ancient Man. The American palæontologist was not convinced by the tales of the monster that he heard at a gathering of Mongolian officials: "None of those present ever had seen the creature, but they all firmly believed in its existence and described it minutely."[1][2]



The Mongolian name is олгой-хорхой (olgoi-khorkhoi) where olgoi means large intestine and khorkhoi means worm, so the full name means "intestine worm". The anglicized spelling of the name sometimes appears as allghoi khorkhoi, allerghoi horhai, or olgoj chorchoj.[1] The name refers to the Death Worm's appearance, which is reported to resemble the intestine of a cow.


The olgoi-khorkhoi is said to resemble a cow's intestine. It is reported to be red in color, and is sometimes described as having darker spots or blotches. Sometimes it is said to have spiked projections at both ends. The Worms are purportedly between 2 to 5 feet long and thick bodied.[1] They somewhat resemble polychaetes: in many respects, the Mongolian Death Worm closely resembles a land-dwelling Bobbit worm.

Czech Explorer Ivan Mackerle described the animal from second-hand reports as: "Sausage-like worm over half a metre (20 inches) long, and thick as a man's arm, resembling the intestine of cattle. Its tail is short, as [if] it were cut off, but not tapered. It is difficult to tell its head from its tail because it has no visible eyes, nostrils or mouth. Its colour is dark red, like blood or salami..."[1]

Habitat and behavior

The Mongolian Death Worm is said to inhabit the Southern Gobi Desert.[1] The Mongolians say that the olgoi-khorkhoi can kill at a distance, either by spraying an acid-like substance or by using an electrical discharge.[1][3] They say that the Worm lives underground, hibernating most of the year except for when it becomes active in June and July. It is reported that this animal is mostly seen on the surface when it rains and the ground is wet.[1]

The Mongolians also believe that touching any part of the worm will cause instant death. Its venom supposedly corrodes metal and local folklore tells of a predilection for the color yellow. The Worm is also said to have a preference for local parasitic plants such as the Goyo.[1]

Cryptozoological hypotheses

One hypothesis is that the Mongolian Death Worm is a type of land-based electric eel, an adapted hanger-on from thousands of years ago when the Gobi Desert was an inland sea. Electric eels, a type of knifefish, do come to the surface every ten minutes or so to breathe air. However, no known electric eels can emit poison.[1]

Another hypothesis is that the olgoi-khorkhoi could be a spitting snake that has been exaggerated by folklore.[1]

British zoologist Karl Shuker has hypothesized that the Death Worm is a type of legless lizard of the Amphisbaenid Family.[4]

Mentions, investigations

  • British zoologist Karl Shuker brought the animal back to the general attention of the English speaking public in his 1996 book The Unexplained,[5] followed a year later by his Fortean Studies paper on this subject, which was reprinted in The Beasts That Hide From Man in which it was hypothesized that the death worm was an Amphisbaenid.[4]
  • Loren Coleman included this animal in Cryptozoology A to Z.[6]
  • A joint expedition in 2005 by the Centre for Fortean Zoology and E-Mongol investigated new reports and sighting of the creature. They found no evidence of its existence, but could not rule out that it might live in the deep Gobi Desert along the prohibited areas of the Mongolian/Chinese border.
  • In 2005, zoological journalist Richard Freeman mounted an expedition to hunt for the Death Worm but came up empty-handed. Freeman's conclusion was that the tales of the worm had to be apocryphal, and that reported sightings likely involved non-poisonous burrowing reptiles.[2]
  • Reality-television series, Destination Truth conducted an expedition in 2006-2007.
  • A New Zealand Television entertainment reporter, David Farrier of TV3 News took part in an expedition in August 2009[2][7][8] but came up empty-handed as well, although managing to make a 90-minute documentary about his trip.[9] He conducted interviews with locals claiming to have seen the worm and mentioned on his website that the sightings peaked in the 1950s.

Cultural references

  • The worm's first literary appearance was in the short story Olgoi-Khorkhoi by Ivan Yefremov (1942–1943)
  • It appears briefly in The Land of Crimson Clouds (1959), the debut novel of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  • William Gibson's novel Spook Country (2007) has mention of a Mongolian Death Worm.
  • The Worm is the subject of a Vector 13 story in the British anthology comic 2000 AD.
  • In 2009, the short fiction podcast The Drabblecast presented a humorous, multipart audio story called "In Search of the Mongolian Death Worm". The short follows a fictional, celebrity filled expedition to the Gobi to hunt for the Worm (podcast numbers 131, 132, 134, and 142). In the final installment, host Norm Sherman sings a love song to the Death Worm, entitled "Another Lonely Night."[10]
  • The anime series Guin Saga has several incidents where an expeditionary force from 'Monghol" is attacked by a giant red worm creature with a corrosive touch.
  • As for its depicturing, properties, burrowing behaviour and desert habitat, the best-selling science-fiction book series Dune universe have a clear reference in its Shai-Hulud gigantic sand worm that supposedly dephecated the precious Melange spice used in astrogation that turned people's eyes blue, spanned life and heightened cosmic awareness.

Also in the TV show "The Secret Saturdays", the main Villian, V.V. Argost used mongolian death worm venom in many episodes.


See also

Fictional giant worms


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "The Mongolian Death Worm". Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d Lauren Davis (2009-07-28). "The Hunt for the Mongolian Death Worm Begins Anew". Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  3. ^ a b Daniel Harris (2007-06-26). "The Mongolian death worm". Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  4. ^ a b Karl Shuker (2003). The Beasts That Hide From Man. NY: Paraview. ISBN 1-931044-64-3. 
  5. ^ Karl Shuker (1996). The Unexplained. London: Carlton Books. ISBN 1-85868-186-3. 
  6. ^ Jerome Clark (1999). Cryptozoology A to Z: The Encyclopedia of Loch Monsters, Sasquatch, Chupacabras, and Other Authentic Mysteries of Nature. NY: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-684-85602-6. 
  7. ^ "David Farrier goes on hunt for Mongolian Death Worm - Video". 2009-07-28. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  8. ^ "New Zealanders Embark On Hunt for Mongolian Death Worm". 2009-07-27. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  9. ^ "Digitising, the NZPA Report… & photos.". 2009-01-09. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  10. ^ "The Drabblecast". Retrieved 2009. 

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address