March 8, 2012

Mongolian Death Worm

Mongolian Death Worm
Natives of the Gobi desert have long told tales of the olgoi-khorkhoi, a bright red worm 2 to 5 feet in length resembling a cow’s intestine. The Mongolians fear the creature to the point that merely hearing its name is considered bad luck, which makes gathering information on it difficult.

The first English mention of the worm, also imaginatively called the Mongolian Death Worm, can be found in Roy Chapman Andrews’ 1926 book On the Trail of Ancient Man. The Mongolian Prime Minister  Damdinbazar described it to him in 1922:

"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…"

After the fall of Communism, the Czech author Ivan Mackerle and his colleagues made friends with a couple of Mongolian nomads who, after a few bottles of vodka, were willing to tell everything they knew about the worm. The nomads said that the worm spits acid that turns all it touches yellow and corroded and that it can instantly kill a person from a distance via electric discharges. They went on to tell a story about a young boy who was followed home by the worm and, upon touching it, died immediately. His parents found the body and saw a trail in the sand leading away. Knowing what had taken their son’s life, they went off to kill the worm. They never returned.

Many expeditions have been mounted to find the olgoi-khorkhoi. Every one of them came up empty-handed. Its existence remains disputed.

Image: Pieter0024 (at Wikipedia)

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