“But the Death Worm was largely forgotten when Mongolia was under socialist rule. The Czech explorer Ivan Mackerle helped rekindle interest with his investigations in the 1990s. Actually, I met Ivan – and he was a wonderful guy – and he inspired us to make another expedition.”
Image: Jon Downes
Traditional Mongolian Yurt
“In preparation, we had some leaflets printed up in Mongolian and distributed in the areas we were visiting. They explained that a group of British scientists would be travelling through the area and offered a $50 reward for a specimen of the allghoi-khorkoi – an indigenous word meaning “intestine worm” because of the Death Worm’s resemblance to a blood-filled cow’s intestine.”
Parchment Depiction of the Death Worm.
So which were the most compelling accounts told by local people during the investigation?
“There were literally dozens and dozens of stories. The oldest eyewitness account came from a 90 year-old former policeman who saw the Death Worm when he was 16; the most recent had seen it just the year before we arrived. All the reports dovetailed with the description of a two-foot long, reddish, worm-like creature lying in the desert – although some people said it is greyer in colour.”