I can’t be the only person who finds themselves learning about weird and wonderful (or just plain weird) stuff after stumbling upon a Wikipedia entry for some hitherto unknown (to me, anyway) person, place, event or object…
Turns out the Mongolian Death Worm is what’s referred to in zoological circles as a Cryptid:
‘A creature or plant whose existence has been suggested but is unrecognized by scientific consensus and often regarded as highly unlikely.’
As well as common cryptids like the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, my eye was drawn to the Jackalope, a creature of North American folklore usually described as a Jack Rabbit with the horns of an antelope. Most interesting about the Jackalope is that its origin story may trace back to sightings of rabbits infected with the Shope papilloma virus, a thoroughly unpleasant sounding infection that causes keratinous carcinomas (cancerous horny growths), often on the animal’s head.
Another cryptid whose origins can be traced to the same virus is the Bavarian Wolpertinger, though this creature is usually even more elaborately adorned: often with wings, tails and fangs in addition to the antlers.
At this point, I decided I should probably close the browser and go outside.