Scientists search for Mongolian Death Worm
Attempt to confirm existence of legendary beast
mongabay.com
May 3, 2005






A group of English scientists are spending a month in the Gobi desert in search of the Mongolian Death Worm, a fabled creature said to lurk in the sands of the hostile region. The three to five feet long long creature is known to the locals as Allghoi khorkhoi, Mongolian for intestine worm because it is reported to look like the intestine of a cow. Mongolian nomads have made extraordinary claims about the animal, reporting that the death worm can spit a corrosive yellow saliva that acts like acid and that they have the ability to generate blasts of electricity powerful enough to kill a full grown camel.



The Mongolian Death Worm is generally considered a cryptozoological creature, an animal whose existence is disputed and/or unconfirmed. To date there are no scientifically reliable sightings but the expedition's leader, cryptozologist Richard Freeman, hopes to prove once and for all whether this much feared beast of legend actually exists. The expedition, sponsored by the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CPZ), consists of Richard Freeman, cryptozoologist (35), Chris Clark, physicist (59), Jon Hare, science writer (29) and Dave Churchill, artist and designer (33). They will be accompanied by Mongolian guides and will attempt to flush the death worms up from their burrows by damming local streams and flooding small areas of the desert.

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."

Freeman believes the death worm's powers may be overstated. "It's like the salamander in medieval Europe, it was thought to be deadly poisonous. Alexander the Great was supposed to have lost hundreds of men after they drank from a stream that had a salamander living in it. But now we know it's harmless. Even today in the Sudan, people think that the harmless sand boa is so venomous that you only have to touch it and you will die."

The group are from the Exeter based Centre for Fortean Zoology, the world's only full time, scientific organization, dedicated to the study of mystery animals. Past expeditions have included hunts for the Chupacabra, a blood drinking, nocturnal beast from Puerto Rico, the Naga, a 60 foot crested serpent in the jungles and caves of Thailand, and Orang-pendek, an ape man in the unexplored valleys of Sumatra.

You can see updates on the progress of the death worm expedition at cryptoworld.co.uk

This report used information and quotes from the CPZ press release found at http://cryptoworld.co.uk/2005/04/24/cfz-press-release/

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CITATION:
mongabay.com (May 03, 2005).

Scientists search for Mongolian Death Worm.

http://news.mongabay.com/2005/0503-rhett_butler.html