Golden Ant is a egendary invertebrate or rodent of Central Asia. Physical description: Size of a fox. Skin like a leopard’s. Moves swiftly. Digs holes in the winter.
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote of an area in northern India where large, vicious ants dug burrows that turned up a large quantity of gold-bearing sand. The Persians went to the region in the morning to bag the sand and take it back while the ants were still underground.
Not taken very seriously for nearly 2,500 years, until Michel Peissel visited the region in 1996.
- The Long-tailed marmot (Marmota caudata) of Baltistan in northern Pakistan, Michel Peissel notes, burrows in goldbearing soil. The ancient Persian word for these animals translates as “mountain ant,” which resulted in Herodotus’s misidentification.
- Other sources mention giant insects in northern China. Berthold Laufer has suggested a confusion of the Mongolian word for ant, shorgoolj, with the Shirongol Mongols, now more commonly known as the Dongxiang, who currently live in Gansu Province, China, east of Linxia.