Facts: Mongolian Death Worm

Video highlights from Beast Man


  • The Mongolian Death Worm, known to Mongolia’s nomadic tribesmen as the ‘allghoi khorkhoi’ or ‘intestine worm’ as it is said to resemble in appearance that of a cow’s intestine. It is often described as being reddish in colour with no discernable head or tail. Rumour has it the worm rarely appears above ground but can be spotted most often in the months of June and July, and can grow up to 5 feet long.

  • Ivan Efremov (aka Yefremov) the renowned Russian scientist and science fiction writer wrote a short story about the Death Worm called ‘Olgoi-Khorkhoi‘ in 1944, based on Roy Chapman Andrews’ revelations about the creature.

  • Czech author Ivan Mackerle, one of the foremost investigators of the Death Worm, first came across the legend from a former student of his who came from Mongolia. It was only until 1990, after the fall of communism that Mackerle was granted permission by the new government to launch an expedition to officially search for the Death Worm and attempt to prove its existence.

  • Although most worms live in the soil, some have adapted to live in the sand too. The Giant Beach Worm (Australonuphis teres) is found in the sandy beaches of southern and eastern Australia and can grow up to 2.5 meters long. They spend most of their time under the sand only ever surfacing to feed.

  • Earthworms lack the ability to see or hear. Instead they have a highly developed sense of touch and the chemical senses of taste and smell. However they have no lungs and breathe through their skin and use a circulatory system the carry the essential oxygen and carbon dioxide around their body. This allows them to grow to quite large sizes in some countries.

Discuss this article


Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
We use our own and third-party cookies to improve our services, personalise your advertising and remember your preferences. If you continue browsing, or click on the accept button on this banner, we understand that you accept the use of cookies on our website. For more information visit our Cookies Policy AcceptClose cookie policy overlay