Bilbo Baggins Versus the Mongolian Death Worm?

Posted by: Karl Shuker on November 7th, 2013

The works of J.R.R. Tolkien contain a number of creatures with some pertinence to cryptozoology, such as giant spiders, dragons, and the dreaded watcher in the water (a monstrous freshwater cephalopod?). Yet perhaps the most unexpected as well as the most fascinating Tolkien reference to a cryptid, which occurs in The Hobbit (1937), is so brief and inconspicuous that it can be easily passed by or even entirely overlooked, with its cryptozoological significance not even registering upon the reader.

Bilbo Baggins and the Mongolian death worm

(Pic credit: Richard Svensson/Ivan Mackerle)

This is a great tragedy, because, remarkable as it may seem, the mystery beast in question is none other than the extraordinary Mongolian death worm!

Further information can be found here on my ShukerNature blog.

Karl Shuker About Karl Shuker
My name is Dr Karl P.N. Shuker. I am a zoologist (BSc & PhD), media consultant, and the author of 25 books and hundreds of articles, specialising in cryptozoology and animal mythology. I have a BSc (Honours) degree in pure zoology from the University of Leeds (U.K.), and a PhD in zoology and comparative physiology from the University of Birmingham (U.K.). I have acted jointly as consultant and major contributor to three multi-author volumes on cryptozoology and other mysterious phenomena. I am the Life Sciences Consultant to The Guinness Book of Records/Guinness World Records (Guinness: London, 1997-present day), and was consultant to Monsters (Lorenz Books: London, 2001), as well as a contributor to Mysteries of the Deep (Llewellyn: St Paul, 1998), Guinness Amazing Future (Guinness: London, 1999), The Earth (Channel 4 Books: London, 2000), and Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained (Chambers: London, 2007). I appear regularly on television & radio, was a consultant for the Discovery TV series Into the Unknown, and a question setter for the BBC's quiz show Mastermind. I am a Scientific Fellow of the Zoological Society of London, a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society, a Member of the Society of Authors, and the Cryptozoology Consultant for the Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ). I have written articles for numerous publications, including Fortean Times, The X Factor, Paranormal Magazine, FATE, Strange Magazine, Prediction, Beyond, Uri Geller's Encounters, Phenomena, Alien Encounters, Wild About Animals, All About Cats, All About Dogs, Cat World, etc. In 2005, I was honoured by the naming of a new species of loriciferan invertebrate after me - Pliciloricus shukeri.

One Response to “Bilbo Baggins Versus the Mongolian Death Worm?”

  1. Hapa responds:

    The Mongolian Death worm would have been an even more fascinating addition o the Tolkien mythos if it actually appeared in the flesh, so to speak, in the novels. I can see Aragorn in his travels in Harad (mentioned I believe in the Fellowship of the Ring book), encountering and slaying the death worm. It would have given a Nazgul a run for its money (its electric shock attack would be brutal, even for a Witch King). If Bilbo found itself facing the death worm, even the ring of Sauron could not save him: against the power of the Death Worm, there can be no victory (I can imagine Saurman saying those words).

    I wonder if werewurms are mentioned in some of his unfinished tales, or the children of Hurin.

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