On the cryptid commonly known as the Mongolian Death Worm.
Google Image Search "Mole Lizard", Bipes
There have been many explanations but forth for the possible explanation, and identity of the
Mongolian Death Worm. This article looks at the possibility of the amphisbaenia as been the explanation and the identity of the Mongolian Death Worm.
Amphisbaenia are commonly refered to as worm lizards. They are known as worm lizards because
they resemble earthworms both in their behavior and morphologically. Systematics place them in the class-Reptilia, Order-Squamata, Suborder-Amphisbienidae, and Families of, Amphisbienidae (Gray, 1865), Bipedidae (Taylor, 1951), Rhineuridae (Vanzolini 1951) and Trognophidae (Gray 1865).
This article will be focusing on the Family Bipedidae (Taylor 1951) which the Genus- Bipes ("Two-Foots") belongs. The four species with in the genus Bipes are Bipes alverazi, B.bipurus, B.canaliclatus and B.tridictylus. One of the biggest morphological differences that seperates the genus Bipes from other amphisbaenian is they have two forelimbs.
Amphisbaenias have a wide geographic distribution they are found both in the Old world and New World. All though so far they have not been found in Mongolia or that far east. With in the Eastern Hemisphere amphisbaenia occur in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Iraq, Saudi Arabia most of the Southern half of continental Africa and Madagascar. Iraq is the part of the range which has the nearest approach to Mongolia.
- Morphology and Natural History -
The local names for the Mongolian Death Worm are Allghoi khorkhoi and Allergorhai horhai which is transalted as intestine worm. They are desribed as 2 feet long with some extreme reports of length at 5 feet long. Their color is said to be red with reports sometimes desribing brown spots. Some acounts describe the appearance one end of the Mongolian Death Worm having aserious of long pointed structures at it tip. The other accounts desribe that their head and tail are so similar that it is difficult to decide which is the tail and which is the head. The overall look of the Mongolian Death Worm is said to resemble the apperance of a earth worm.
The Mongolian Death Worm is said to have the ability of being able to secreates a bubble of poison from one end. Then squirts it in a stream at it desecenated target. Anything that comes in to contact with the fluid it turns yellow instantly, and has the apperance as if it had been corrodied with acid. There are other eyewitness accounts of the ability that it can kill from a distance by the use of a electrical discharge. Most serious researches think the stories of the creature's squirting venom or electrical discharge are nothing but Folk tales added on to sightings of a legendary creature. Ordinarily creatures that kill using electricity are aquatic and not terrestrial.
The habitat of the Mongalian Death Worm is it lives in the sand dunes among the saxual plants. Living a subterrestrial live but becoming terrestrial both during the hottest months of the year of June and July. Also the terrestrial observations and behavior is also associated after the rain.
- The Amphisbaenia as the Mongolian Death Worm -
Comparing both desribtions and eyewitness testimony shows how the Amphisbaenia and the genus Bipes ssp. is a possibility for the identification for the cryptid Mongolian Death Worm, if it is based on a real animal ("You laugh only because you know nothing and understand nothing. The allghoi khorkhoi it is a terrible thing.) and not just native folklore and superstition.
Starting with the comparing the morphology of the Mongolian Death Worm compared to the genus Bipes ssp. we see that the describtion of the Mongolian Death Worm is a near perfect match. Both Amphisbaenidae and the Mongolian Death Worm are desribed as looking like earthworms. These worm like descriptions are said about both of them. Their tail are so similar to their head that it is often difficult to decide which end is which. The name amphisbaenian comes from the mythical amphisbaena a worm-like monster with a head at each end of it body.
Also the Mongolian Death Worm has been desribed as having at least one end has a serious of long pointed structures at it tip. If we add the third report of the Mongolian Death Worm morphology that desribes it as having wings. We can see how all three of this reports giva a accurated distribution of a Amphisbaenia that closely resembles the genus Bipes ssp. and are not contradicting each other. Presumably the descriptions saying the creatures has spkes or wings on one end are a reference to two short forelimbs as in Bipes.
Sherperd L. Chorloo (Khorlaw) from Chorngor Gobi in the southern Gobi aimak (country) stated: " Here we see an intresting creature. Its body looks like salami, half of which is taken up by the head, and on the rear it has wings. I have seen it twice. On both occasions it was lying dead."
We need to keep in mind is that any eyewitness accounts of the cryptid it is going to be brief encounter, The Mongolian Death Worm is said to be extremely deadly being able to kill from a distance from either a posion or by a electric discharge.
If we take into account that the eyewitness accounts are of a brief encounter the first description of the Mongolian Death Worm is a great match for the Amphisaenian. Both the Mongolian Death Worm and Amphisbaenian, are desribed as stated earlier that their their head and tail are so similar, that it is difficult to tell which is the tail and which is the head.
The second description is of spikes at one end, this fits the desribtion of Amphisaenian in the genus Bipes ssp. as, being the only Amphisaenian with two front limbs that posse long claws for digging.
It is then resonable that both this accounts can be right and be desribing the same cryptid, by letting fear set in and not taking any time to take a good long look. Bipes ssp. would be a over all match for the desribtion of the Mongolian Death Worm. With either the witness memory of a brief encounter they either remember the overall shape or the long claws.
That just leaves the wing stuctures as desribed by Shepherd L. Chorloo. The description he gave does resemble the Mongolian Death Worm overall it is just the wings that that make it sound like it is a diffrent cryptid. There is two possible explanations that can be shown either being with in the genus Bipes ssp. or, a new genus within Amphisaenian.
With little desribtion to go on and no pictures with the anadoltale information we don't know the state of decompostion or any scavaging that has taken place on the body. Or how long or close attention he paid to the bodys being desribed, with seen the same cryptid on more than one occasion there is little information to go by.
If the wings being described were the arms of Bipes ssp. out to the side of the body, this would give a wing like look to it. The other possible explanation is a new genus of Amphisaenian there are other legless lizards in the Class-Reptilla, Order-Squamata, and in the family Pygopodidae that have no fore legs and the hind legs consist only of small scally flaps at the rear end of the body, at the level of the cloca. It is possible for a new genus of Amphisaenian with similar morphology these would explain the wings. This would be no different that the genus Bipes ssp. with the Amphisaenian they so far are the only genus with appendages.
If this is the most accurate desribtion of the cryptid Mongolian Death Worm it desribtion fits in with other eyewitness desribtions when it is placed a a possible Amphisaenian.
The length is the the last part of the morphology that the anecdotal eyewitness reports talk about, it is said to be between 2 feet and 5 feet being the extreme. As Karal Shuker has pointed out - "Morphologically speaking, an extra large ajolote (Bipes biporus) would certainly provide a very plausibale explanation for the legged /winged mystery worm of Chongar Gobi." We can not prove that such a large Amphisanian or Bipes ssp. exist but it can be shown how it is biologically possability. [Other amphisbaenians are up to 3 feet long or more, they are simply not members of the genus Bipes.-DD]
There are many examples of squamates that have Island Gigantism do to shorten seasons they have less time they can store enough fat reserves to last the rest of the year. The most widely known example of this is Nortchs ater serventyi (Chappel Island tiger snake) during a brief season of mutton birds 2 to 3 years is the only time N. a. serventyi gets to feed. Which leaves 10 to 9 months until they will eat again the next mutton bird season.
- Conclusion -
With a possible identification of the Mongolian Death Worm we can use both anecdotal reports and empirical evidence of the Amphisienian. This gives us a staring place to either find and prove that the Mongolian Death Worm is a real animal, or it gives use a starting place to disprove that the Mongolian death worm is either a Amphisbaenian or a real animal at all. We know that both are hard to study and are rare seen, with both the opportunitive time to obseve them is on a raining day (June /July).
[It is possible that they are coming out to lay eggs at such times as they are observed: Mexican Bipes do emerge in June to find a new nesting place to lay eggs. Amphisbeanas are also likely to emerge after the rain.-DD]
Using the method of Digital search assistant (Digital search assistant for cryptozoological field expeditions. By Andrew May, The Journal of Cryptozoology Vol 1, Nov 2012) in and around the habitat of the sand dunes near the saxual plants during raining conditions.
Below: Facsimile page for Mongolian Death Worm entry from George Eberhart's Mysterious Creatures, 2002.
[ For my part I think this is a good theory and matches well with the possibility that the
two-legged Tatzelwurm reports are a similar sort of Amphisbaena. The link between the Tatzelwurm and the Mongolian Death Worm has previously been suggested by some Cryptozoologists and originates in an issue of PURSUIT, as far as I can tell -DD]
See Also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sineoamphisbaena