Our series on cryptozoology – the study of creatures whose existence has not yet been proven scientifically – began with a gaze into the red eyes of The Barghest Hound, a deadly beast of British legend. Today we're venturing into the barren wastelands of the Gobi Desert to examine a hideous specimen whose description dates back to ancient native folklore from the area, and continues to be reported even today: The Mongolian Death Worm.
In native legends, the so-called “intestine worm” takes its nickname from its resemblance to a human intestinal tract. Stories about its exact appearance, size and behavior have varied over the generations, but it has been claimed to be over a yard long, blood-red in color, and can allegedly kill its prey by spitting acid and/or poison. Some tales include mention of its ability to emit an electrical charge (similar to the electric eel) to locate and incapacitate its living targets. The legend was documented in the 20th century by Prof. Roy Chapman Andrews (of the US Museum of Natural History) in his books On the Trail of Ancient Man and The New Conquest of Central Asia.
Although the worm has never been captured, filmed or photographed, It's only natural that such a disturbing creature would find its way into modern horror. One of the most memorable examples is the 1990 film Tremors, in which the subterranean “Graboids” were based on the Mongolian Death Worm legend, and SyFy later pumped a shitload of steroids into the concept to create multiple giant-sized CGI versions for a 2010 TV monster flick. I wasn't at all surprised to find the name show up in the music world: Mongolian Death Worm is also a Florida death metal band whose album titles are worm-themed, and most of their tracks are based on various legendary monsters.