Awesome or Off-Putting is a weekly delve into cryptozoology, ufology, aliens, medical marvels, scientific wonders, secret societies, government conspiracies, cults, ghosts, EVPs, myths, ancient artifacts, religion, strange facts or just the plain unexplainable.
This week: Cryptozoology/Myths
The Mongolian Death Worm lives in Mongolia, obviously, and is so named because it spits lethal concoctions of poison and/or electricity on whatever it pleases. The creature's never been officially documented, but locals have seen it – lots of locals. It's even 'real' enough that the 1922 Prime Minister of Mongolia asked a man to bring one in.
Did the man succeed?
No, the man didn't succeed. But that doesn't keep others from trying to catch/document one of the worms. A Mongolian website has this to say about the super-slug:
"The Alghoi Khorkhoi (literally intestinal worm) is a mythical animal known by Mongolians since long time but not indexed by science for the reason that no specimen could yet be captured or studied. It is described like a big worm of approximately 80 cm length living in very remote sand areas of Gobi desert and leaving to the free air only very seldom, in summer. He is considered as a "terrible" animal able to kill in an unexplained way any man who touch it (poison, static electricity?)
"The first report on this animal came from the famous paleontologist Roy Chapman Andrews which was asked to capture it by the Prime Minister of Mongolia in 1922. The local belief of the existence of Alghoi Khorkhoi is very widespread and could accredit the assumption that an unknown animal, worm or reptile could still remain unknown by science from its great discretion and its desertic and hostile unhabitat."
According to locals, the Death Worm chiefly burrows through the sand, but comes to the surface after it rains, or when a particular flower (the Goyo plant) is in bloom. One of the locals has had enough experience with the worm to make a wooden carving of it. It looks to be a much smaller version of the ones Kevin Bacon and the dad from Family Ties had to fight in the movie Tremors.
One local account depicts a man who actually touched the worm. As the Fortean Times puts it:
"One particularly graphic account was of a man who had mistakenly touched a khorkhoi; his arm had started to burn, so he had stuck it in a bag of cooling airag, which turned green from the poison."
Whether the arm burst into flames or if the burning described was more of a chemical nature, it is unknown. We're going to assume the flames though, as the worm's been given electrical powers in some places we've been reading up on it. There have been quite a few accounts of the worms though. The Fortean Times adventurer Adam Davies gives us another account. This one is from a local man who assisted some geologists on an expedition several years earlier:
"He recalled how one of the geologists had first spotted a khorkhoi and asked him exactly what the creature was. Both of them had been nervous and left the creature alone. The following day, the survey team saw two more in the same area – which they had promptly burned… When I asked the old man why, he turned towards me, stared me straight in the eye, and said: “Because we were afraid. I am afraid of this place. It is a bad place. Since then, I have only been back there twice in my life. You will see…”
There you have it, plenty of accounts from worm-witnesses, but no photographs, no recordings and no hard evidence. There've been multiple expeditions which have set out solely for the purpose of finding the worm, but all have failed. It's a bit Bigfoot-ish, really.
But that sure doesn't mean the worm doesn't exist.
The Mongolian Death Worm – Virtue Science