Mongolian Death Worm
The Mongolian Death Worm: Has anyone noticed how similar the description of the Death Worm is to that old venomous beastie of ancient and medieval tradition, the Basilisk? The terms "dragon," "serpent," and "worm" were virtually interchangeable in medieval times. The Death Worm is quite large for a worm; the Basilisk is rather small for a draconian creature. Both live in desert areas. Indeed, the Basilisk is so deadly, legends and folklore imply that it creates the deserts in which it lives. Dr. Shuker mentions the supposed electric shock the Death Worm can deliver, as in "the chilling case of a visiting geologist who died instantly after accidentally touching a death worm with a metal rod" (Strange #18, p. 54). This seems to be merely a more modern version of the Basilisk's venom, as Peter Lum explains in his book Fabulous Beasts (1951): "And were one by some chance, with eyes closed and nostrils stopped up, to succeed in killing the basilisk, the venom would travel through whatever weapon was used and the brave conqueror of the monster would soon lie as dead as his enemy."
Michael D. Winkle