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.
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.”