The Mongolian Death Worm (olgoi-khorkhoi)


The Mongolian Death Worm, in Mongolian olgoi-khorkhoi (literal translation “large intestine worm” because of its supposed resemblance to a cow’s intestine) [1] is purportedly 0.6 to 1.5 meters (two to five feet) long, bulky, vivid red in color, has no appendages and is incredibly poisonous.

The "Death Worm" is said to make its home in the vastness of southern Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.


The Mongolians maintain it can kill at a distance, either by spitting venom/acid or through some kind of electrical discharge. They say that it burrows benath the earth, hibernating most of the year, emerging in June and July, to be seen above ground during or following rain when the surface is wet.

The cryptid [2] was first introduced to the “West” by Professor Roy Chapman Andrews [3] in his 1926 book “On the Trail of Ancient Man” though he, like others that would follow, had serious doubts about the worm’s existence:

Contemporary Czech explorer Ivan Mackerle, as a young man intrigued by tales of the monster, has, following a number of unsuccessful expeditions (1990, 1992 and 2004) apparently conceded that the “worm” if not an hallucination might be some sort of psychological phenomenon possibly caused by the Gobi’s intense heat.

In 2005 after drawing a blank with his expedition, Richard Freeman, a zoological correspondent, concluded that stories of the worm were apocryphal reported sightings possibly that of non-poisonous burrowing reptiles.

In 2006-2007 a reality television series, “Destination Truth” known in the United Kingdom as “The Monster Hunter” conducted an investigation and again the results were negative/inconclusive.


[1] It has also been suggested they bear a resemblance to polychaetes, looking somewhat like a desert-dwelling Bobbit worm (a predatory aquatic polychaete worm which burrows into soft or shaley ocean floor, waiting patiently, before launching into action at the approach of prey with such ferocity that it's sharp teeth can slice it's victim in half) or Amphisbaenidae a family of amphisbaenians, commonly known as worm lizards, that are both rare and carnivorous with interlocking teeth capable of inflicting tremendous damage.

[2] The word “cryptid” was devised by Manitoban John E. Wall and first used in the International Society of Cryptozoology Newsletter, Summer 1983. It basically refers to creatures that are hypothetical, presumed extinct or for which there is insufficient proof to establish their existence with absolute certainty.

[3] Roy Chapman Andrews was an American explorer, adventurer, crack shot (courtesy of an early upbringing in the wilds of Wisconsin) fossil hunter, naturalist and writer during the early/middle 20th century, President of the Explorer’s Club 1931 to 1934 and director of the American Museum of Natural History 1935 to 1941.

Some sources claim he was the inspiration for the Indiana Jones character (he did wear a fedora and alledly hated snakes), but it is more likely that he and others like him served as models for the heroes in the B films and matinee serials of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, in turn inspiring Lucas and the other writers of the famous movie franchise.

In 1942 Roy Chapman Andrews retired to Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, passing away in 1960. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Beloit, Wisconsin.




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