Ogloi Khorkoi… the very name evokes a deep-seated horror in the minds of Mongolians living in the Gobi. A creature with the ability to kill on impact, whether through a fatal shower of toxic slime or electric shock, lying in wait under the cover of the shifting sands while ill-fated prey roam, unaware, on the surface. Tales abound of the legendary Olgoi Khorkoi, known to westerners as the Mongolian Deathworm, a specimen that has evaded capture whether on film or through the expedited efforts of cryptozoologists venturing into the Gobi with high expectations and little understanding of the nature of this elusive monster.
The Mongolian name for the monster – Olgoi Khorkoi – roughly translates in English as ‘intestinal worm,’ a fitting description for the blood red sausage-shaped beast. Reports describe its size to range from 2-7 feet long and roughly the diameter of a man’s arm. The skin is believed to be an exoskeleton, shedding at will if damage occurs to the specimen. Its habitat range is said to be limited to the southern Gobi in harsh conditions unfavorable to most life forms.
The Deathworm lives underground and is believed to hibernate, coming out only in summer months and during wet weather (similar to an earthworm) to feed on the flowers of the goya plant. Mongolian nomads describe its movement to be extraordinarily rapid, surprising its prey with a guerrilla-style attack. The giant worm raises half its body out of the sand, spitting or spraying an acidic substance that kills its prey nearly instantly. Another version that many witnesses describe is seeing the top end of the worm inflate and subsequently explode the venom or poison out as a projectile, while others that insist on electrocution as its primary method of attack.
One of the earliest attempts to find the Mongolian Deathworm occurred in the first decades of the 20th century, when zoologist Lloyd Chapman Andrews and his team entered Mongolia on the premise of uncovering a rich Paleolithic history in the desert. Andrews, with funding from a certain J.P. Morgan, was successful in unearthing a multitude of dinosaur bones and eggs, and despite a sincere effort to track the Olgoi Khorkoi, no evidence was revealed. This was much to the chagrin of Mongolian government officials including the Premier and several cabinet ministers who professed to have family members who have experienced personal encounters with the deadly cryptid.
The nature of the Olgoi Khorkoi remains a mystery to the majority human civilization. Perhaps the only individuals to know the true nature of this creature are those who have not lived to tell the tale. One harrowing account comes from a nomadic Mongolian community, whose story was uncovered by Ivan Mackerle’s research in the 1990’s. The story goes that the creature stalked a young boy as he was returning home from the hinterlands. He was found dead near his family’s residence, and it was believed that he died from merely touching the worm, a victim of its electric shock. His family, taking vengeance, followed the trail left by the tunneling beast, never to return to the village.
There are claims from South Gobi Peoples that a whole herd of camels died by just walking over a dead Deathworm that was concealed beneath the sand. Other rumors tell of a geologist who was just poking the sands with an iron rod and dropped dead on the spot many years ago. The only logical explanation is that the death could only have occurred by the process of electrocution from contact with the Deathworm.
While many have attempted to seek out the worm, no expeditions with this intention have been successful. Mackerle used the method of creating vibrations using compactors to coax out the worm, a technique reminiscent of electrolysis in water to attract fish (or Ogopogo!). Despite the ingenuities of modern science, Mackerle’s and others efforts continue to fail, and the elusive creature remains uncatalogued in modern taxonomy.
Written by Amber Rae Bouchard