According to legend, the dreaded Mongolian Death Worm — which local people call olgoi-khorkhoi or loosely translated, “large intestine worm” has lived up to its name. It can kill in several fearsome ways, including spitting a stream of corrosive venom that is lethal to anything it hits, and if that doesn’t do the trick it is said to be able to electrocute its victims from a distance. Rarely seen and never photographed, it was mentioned in a 1926 book by paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews, who didn’t believe in the animal’s existence but noted that stories of it circulated in Mongolia. 

According to British biologist Karl Shuker in his book “The Unexplained: An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Paranormal Mysteries” (2002, Metro Books) “One of the world’s most sensational creatures may be concealed amid the sands of the southern Gobi desert. … It is said to resemble a large fat worm, up to 1 meter (3 feet) long and dark red in color, with spike-like projections at both ends. It spends much of its time hidden beneath the desert sands, but whenever one is spotted lying on the surface it is scrupulously avoided by the locals.” 

The Gobi Desert

Searching for The Death Worm

Explorers have set out into the Gobi desert seeking the beast. Numerous organized expeditions and searches have been made over the years, by both independent researchers and in conjunction with television shows. Despite extensive searches, eyewitness interviews, and even setting traps for the beast, all have come back empty handed. Subsequent expeditions to hunt down the sand beast continue today.

Legend has it these terrifying creatures spend most of their time hidden underneath the sandy dunes of the Gobi Desert but that they often surface during the wetter months of June and July. If a local should happen upon this creature, they know to steer clear.

The Gobi Desert is a vast region that spans a territory of 500,000 square miles of rough terrain, making the existence of undiscovered animal species very likely.

Additionally, there are worm species that have been known to live in sand instead of soil, like the giant beach worm (Australonuphis teres) in Australia.

In worms the circulatory system functions by absorbing oxygen through their skin and carrying it through their body, which would allow them to grow up to large sizes like the death worm’s purported five-foot length.

Consider also that no live or dead ones have been found. Every other creature known to exist has left behind a dead body or skeleton. In fact, the Gobi would likely preserve carcasses of the animal, due to the relative lack of predators and hot desert winds that slow decomposition. Inhabitants of the Gobi are aware of the global interest in their mystery monster, as well as offers of rich rewards for one of the creatures, live or dead, and if one was found it would surely come to light.

It is of course possible that the Mongolian Death Worms exist (of course there would have to be more than one of them to sustain what biologists call a breeding population, likely tens or hundreds of thousands of them). Perhaps next week, next month, or next year such a bizarre creature will be found and examined by scientists. 

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