SCRUB PYTHON SYSTEMATICS
M. B. Harvey et al. [2000, Herpetological
Monographs 14: 139-185] revise the scrub pythons (i.e., the Morelia
amethistina complex) based on museum specimens and new material recently
collected in eastern Indonesia. Morelia kinghorni (formerly M.
amethistina kinghorni) and M. amethistina (formerly M. amethistina
amethistina) are recognized as species, and three new species
are described: M. clastolepis, M. nauta and M. tracyae.
The phylogenctic relationships of scrub pythons are resolved using
morphological and molecular characters. Scrub pythons are most closely
related to Morelia boeleni and have undergone both ancient divergences
and a relatively recent radiation.
The distribution of scrub pythons corresponds well with areas of endemism
recognized in earlier studies of other taxa. Their distribution and evolution
appears to have been shaped by combined effects of dispersal and vicariance.
Scrub python populations exhibit interesting color and pattern polymorphism
and ontogenetic change, and these characteristics vary among populations.
(Note that some of the above names
differ from those adopted by Hoser
(2000), including the continued use of the generic name 'Morelia'
to describe theScrub Pythons (as opposed to 'Austroliasis') and
the name 'kinghorni' to describe Australian Scrub Pythons (as opposed
the Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society, 35 (1)
November 2000, page 271.
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