On 7 November 2008, guests walking the Waterfall Trail discovered a new species of snake for the reserve – a beautiful, but deadly, Atlantic Coralsnake Micrurus corallinus. While photographing the snake, the group noticed that the snake had killed an earthworm-like creature. Suspected to be an amphisbaenian – a reptile related to lizards and snakes – the identification was confirmed by Chris Knowles of Shepreth Wildlife Park, Cambridgeshire, UK, as being a Small-headed Worm Lizard Leposternon microcephalum.
Amphisbaenians are rare and poorly known because they spend most of their lives burrowing underground. There are about 150 species, found mainly in South America and Africa. They have reinforced skulls and loose skin which enables them to burrow, are blind (their eyes are covered in skins and scales), and carnivorous, using their hearing to locate prey. This discovery has not only increased our knowledge of the biodiversity of the reserve, but has enabled us to learn about one of the more mysterious animals that make up the Atlantic Forest ecosystem.