Friday, December 17, 2010

Mongolian Death Worm

The Mongolian death worm or olgoi-khorkhoi, "large intestine worm", is a creature purported to exist in the Gobi Desert. It is described as a bright red worm with a wide body that is 2 to 5 feet long; the ability of the worm to spew forth acid that will turn anything it touches yellow and corroded (and which would kill a human), as well as its purported ability to kill at a distance by means of an electrical discharge. (The image above is by Pieter Dirkx)

Professor Roy Chapman Andrews wrote a book, "On the Trail of Ancient Man", in 1926 that brought the Death Worm to the wider world; before that it was known mostly to native Mongolians only. He was not convinced of it's authenticity but the locals he spoke with, though none had seen it themselves, were adamant about it's existence and described it fully.

It is reported to be red in color, sometimes described as having darker spots or blotches and is said to have spiked projections at both ends. They are believed to resemble polychaetes, looking much like a sea-dwelling Bobbit worm. (pic below)

The worm lives underground, hibernating most of the year except for when it becomes active in June and July and is said to come to the surface whenever it rains, much like an earth worm. The local Mongolians also claim it has a fondness for the goyo plant, so they tend to steer clear of them.

What this creature could be is still a mystery, as is the way it is said to kill. While stingrays, eels and catfish are the most widely known animals with electrical capabilities, over 500 different creatures harbor the ability to create an electrical shock. Elephant fishes, bonytongues, and stargazers are all fish with various degrees of electrical power. No worms that I know of use venom, though some are poisonous. So this creature is completely new and unusual...and many think is merely a local legend like the Bogeyman of America, a story used to keep children in once the sun goes down. I however believe that the Mongolian Death Worm is a real creature and will eventually be found to exist. Exactly what it is though I have no idea.

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