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The Mongolian Death Worm is a cryptid reported to exist in the Gobi Desert. It is generally considered a cryptozoological creature, one whose sightings and reports are disputed or unconfirmed.

A fantasy representation



The local name is allghoi khorkhoi (or orghoi) which means "blood-filled intestine worm," because it is reported to look like the intestine of a cow.


It is described as a fat, bright red worm, two to five feet long (about 0.6 to 1.5 meters), which is vividly likened to a living cow's intestine.


The death worm is so feared among the people of Mongolia that many consider the mere mention of its name bad luck. It is attributed with the dramatic ability to kill people and animals instantly at a range of several *feet. It is even believed that the worm sprays an immensely lethal poison; a sort of acidic liquid that immediately makes anything it touches turn yellow and corroded. The nomads also said that the color yellow attracts the Allghoi khorkhoi. The analogy with the basilick (cockatrix) is strong as this creature has also the power to kill instantaneously anyone who tries to observe it. The colour yellow attracts the worm.

Theories and analysis

Theories about origin and existence

As many invertebrates, worms cannot survive in a brutally hot and dry climate like the Gobi desert. Mackerle has proposed the skink, a strange variety of lizard whose nondescript head is hard to distinguish from its tail. Skinks also live buried under desert sands but the smooth-bodied death worm has no legs. He has also suggested that it could be a type of lizard called the worm lizard, although that species is not poisonous. Among lizards, only the Mexican beaded lizard and the Gila monster possess poisonous venom, but they do not squirt it, and their venom definitely is not instantly lethal on contact. The only existing snake that sprays its venom and could survive in the Gobi environment is the death adder, a member of the cobra family but he is found only in Australia and New Guinea and is much smaller. More likely, the death worm is a mythological monster based on an exaggeration of some desert-dwelling snake or reptile, which is not truly as deadly as its reputation would suggest According to a press release from his group, Freeman has his own theory on the death worm: “I don’t think that it’s a worm at all. True worms need moisture. I think it is a limbless, burrowing reptile, probably a giant member of a group of reptiles known as amphisbaenas or worm lizards. These are a primitive group of poorly studied animals. They are not snakes or lizards but are related to both. I think the Death Worm is a giant member of this group.”

Modern searchings

  • The first reference in English to this remarkable beast appears in Professor Roy Chapman Andrews’ 1926 book On the Trail of Ancient Man, although the American palæontologist (apparently the inspiration for the Indiana Jones character) was not entirely convinced by the tales of the monster 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.”
  • The worm was popularized by Czech author author Ivan Mackerle, who learned about the creature from a female student from Mongolia. After Communism collapsed in Mongolia in 1990, he mounted two expeditions in search of the allghoi khorkhoi (in 1990 and 1992). Except a few testimonies from locals, he did not bring back any evidence.
  • A joint expedition in 2005 by the Centre for Fortean Zoology, and E-Mongol investigated new reports and sighting of the creature. They found no evidence of its existence, but believe that such a creature could exist in the deep Gobi Desert along the prohibited areas of the Mongolian/Chinese border.

The most recent expedition was one in 2006-2007, conducted by the reality-television series, "Destination Truth" produced by the Mandt Brothers.


Shuker, Karl P.N. The Beasts that Hide from Man: Seeking the World's Last Undiscovered Animals. New York: Paraview Press. Copyright (c)2003 by Karl P.N. Shuker, Ph.D.


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