Mongolian death worm

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This article is about the legendary monster in Mongolia. For the 2010 film, see Mongolian Death Worm (film).
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 an alleged 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.[1][2]

The worm is the subject of a number of claims by Mongolian locals, such as the ability of the worm to spew forth an acid; that, on contact, will turn anything it touches yellow and corroded (and which would kill a human);[3] and the ability to kill at a distance by means of electric discharge.[1][3]

Though natives of the Gobi have long told tales of the olgoi-khorkhoi[citation needed], 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."[1][2]


The worms are purportedly between 2 and 5 feet (0.6 and 1.5 m) long, and thick-bodied.[4]

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…"

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 cryptozoologist Ivan Mackerle in his book "Mongolské záhady" (2001) 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 skin serves as an exoskeleton, molting whenever hurt. 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... "[4]

Habitat and behavior[edit]

The 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 a venom at its prey or by means of electric 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][self-published source?]

The Mongolians also believe that touching any part of the worm will cause instant death or tremendous pain.[1][self-published source?] It has been told that the worm frequently preyed on camels and laid eggs in its intestines, and eventually acquired the trait of its red-like skin. 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][self-published source?]

Mentions, investigations[edit]

Cultural references[edit]

Mongolian death worms on graffiti, Kharkiv, 2009


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Mongolian Death Worm". Retrieved 2010-01-29. [self-published source]
  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 c Daniel Harris (2007-06-26). "The Mongolian death worm". Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  4. ^ a b Shuker, Karl P. N. (1 November 2003). The Beasts that Hide from Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. Cosimo, Inc. pp. 25–45. ISBN 978-1-61640-621-9. 
  5. ^ Karl Shuker (1996). The Unexplained. London: Carlton Books. ISBN 1-85868-186-3. 
  6. ^ Karl Shuker (2003). The Beasts That Hide from Man. NY: Paraview. ISBN 1-931044-64-3. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ "David Farrier goes on hunt for Mongolian Death Worm - Video". July 28, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2010. 
  9. ^ "New Zealanders Embark on Hunt for Mongolian Death Worm". July 27, 2009. Retrieved January 29, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Digitising, the NZPA Report… & photos.". January 9, 2009. Retrieved January 1, 2010. 
  11. ^ Sherman, Norm. "In Search of the Mongolian Death Worm". The Drabblecast. Retrieved 2009. 
  12. ^ ""Lost Tapes" - Animal Planet". Copyright © 2011. Retrieved April 10, 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  13. ^ ""Death Worm" - Profile". Feb 11, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  14. ^ ""Death Worm" - Video". Feb 11, 2009. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  15. ^ Kiefer, Eric (2012). The Soft Exile. Busan, Korea: Gentleman Tree Publishing. p. 220. ISBN 978-0983071419. 

External links[edit]