The Mongolian death worm (Mongolian: олгой-хорхой, olgoi-khorkhoi, “large intestine worm”) is a creature reported to exist in the Gobi Desert. It is generally considered a cryptid: an animal 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.
An interpretation of the Mongolian Death Worm by Belgian painter Pieter Dirkx.
The worm is the subject of a number of claims by Mongolian locals – such as the ability of the worm to spew forth acid that, on contact, will turn anything it touches yellow and corroded (and which would kill a human), as well as its reported 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’s 1926 book On the Trail of Ancient Man. The US paleontologist 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.
Mongolian death worms on graffiti, Kharkiv, 2009
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 blotche]. Sometimes it is said to have spiked projections at both ends. The worms are purportedly between 2 and 5 feet long, and thick-bodied. They are believed to somewhat resemble polychaetes, in many respects, looking much like a land-dwelling Bobbit worm.
In his book “On the Trail of Ancient Man” (1926), Roy Chapman Andrews (an American explorer, adventurer and naturalist who became the director of the American Museum of Natural History) cites Mongolian Prime Minister Damdinbazar who in 1922 described the worm allergorhai-horhai:
“It is shaped like a sausage about two feet long, has no head nor leg and it is so poisonous that merely to touch it means instant death. It lives in the most desolate parts of the Gobi Desert…”
Remains of a death worm
From The Files Of Cryptozoology examines one of the most frightening creatures not yet proven to be not real, the Mongolian Death Worm, in this in-depth documentary.
In 1932 Andrews published this information again in the book “The New Conquest of Central Asia”, adding: “It is reported to live in the most arid, sandy regions of the western Gobi”. Andrews didn’t believe that the animal was real.
Czech explorer Ivan Mackerle described the animal from second-hand reports as a “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 color is dark red, like blood or salami.
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. The name refers to the worm’s alleged appearance.
In 2005, Richard Freeman led a four man team from the Centre for Fortean Zoology to Mongolia in search of the notorious Mongolian Death Worm; a fabled reptilian beast said to spit venom and kill its victims with electric blasts. This is their story.
British zoologist Karl Shuker brought the animal back to the general attention of the English-speaking public in his 1996 book The Unexplained, 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.
This interview was conducted with a 90 year old witness who had seen the deathworm in the 1930s. His parents warned him of how dangerous it was and became scared that he had seen a worm in the vicinity of their gur.