The Cryptid Zoo: Mongolian Death Worm (or Olgoi-Khorkhoi)

This reddish creature is about two feet long and as thick as a person's arm, with no discernable limbs, head end, or tail end. It is reported from the Gobi desert on the border of China and Mongolia, one of the least explored areas in the world. It resembles a worm, or a living piece of intestine. It is also called the "intestine worm" because of how it looks, but this nickname causes it to be easily confused with intestinal worms, internal parasites such as the tapeworm that really exist and are not of interest to cryptozoology. The Mongolian death worm is not an internal parasite.

The Mongolian death worm has a reputation for being incredibly venomous and deadly. It supposedly kills camels and horses easily. It may be able to spray its venom, an ability that is found in some snakes native to environments other than Asia. It only comes above ground when it is rainy, which is only two months per year in the Gobi desert. Normally, the Mongolian death worm stays underground, out of sight.

Communism hampered investigations for many years. Since then, all attempts to prove the existence of the Mongolian death worm have been unsuccessful, though eyewitness accounts are numerous enough and relatively consistent. The creature is regarded with a superstitious fear, but the only supernatural characteristic it has picked up is the reputed ability to kill from a distance, without spraying its venom. Similar mythical abilities have been attributed to perfectly real snakes, such as the rattlesnake's supposed power to kill people who are miles away by biting their footprints, so this by itself is not a reason to discount the possibility of the Mongolian death worm being a real animal. Some researchers have suggested that it has the power to shock victims, like an electric eel, though this seems unlikely in a dry environment such as the Gobi desert.

What could the Mongolian death worm be? A snake seems the most likely possibility. Some snakes have developed adaptations to make their head end and tail end look similar, to fool predators. However, most witnesses say it has smooth skin with no scales, which would rule out all except the most bizarre snakes. It could also be a skink (a widespread family of legless lizards that often resemble snakes and look very bizarre). An actual worm is also a possibility, though two feet long would be a pretty big worm. Still, some verified species of Australian worm have reached ten feet in length. Without a live specimen, a dead body, or a very detailed description by a trained biologist, it would be impossible to say what the Mongolian death worm might be.

You can find out more about the Mongolian Death Worm from the following sources:

Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. Cryptozoology A-Z. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Pages 186-187
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Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Pages 277, 352

Shuker, Karl. The Beasts That Hide From Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. New York: Paraview Press, 2003. Pages 25-74, 263-264

Wikipedia, The. Mongolian Death Worm

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