|Mongolian death worm|
|mongolian death worm|
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), as well as its reported ability to kill at a distance by means of electric discharge.
Though natives of the Gobi have long told tales of the olgoi-khorkhoi, 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
The worms are purportedly between 2 and 5 feet (0.6 and 1.5 m) long, and thick-bodied.
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...
- British zoologist Karl Shuker brought the animal back to the general attention of the English-speaking public in his 1996 book The Unexplained, followed a year later by his Fortean Studies paper on this subject, which was reprinted in The Beasts That Hide from Man in which it was hypothesized that the death worm was an Amphisbaenid
- A joint expedition in 2005 by the Centre for Fortean Zoology and E-Mongol[clarification needed] investigated new reports and sighting of the creature. They found no evidence of its existence, but could not rule out that it might live deep in the Gobi Desert along the prohibited areas of the Mongolian–Chinese border.
- The series Beast Hunter, hosted by Pat Spain on the National Geographic Channel, featured an episode on the disputed existence of the creature as well.