PROBLEMS OF PYTHON CLASSIFICATION AND HYBRID PYTHONS.
With the exception of the Black Headed Python and Woma (Genus Aspidites), all other Australasian pythons have at various times been assigned to a number of different genera. Numerous schemes of classification for the remaining Australian species of python have been proposed. These range from the placing of all species in the genus Python shared with other non-Australian species, to placing the species in question in up to seven genera. Namely Austroliasis, Bothrochilus, Chondropython, Katrinus, Lenhoserus, Liasis, Lisalia, Liasis, Morelia, Nyctophilopython, and Python. The assignment of given species within a particular genus is also a matter of conflict. For example within the last 10 years the Scrub Python Austroliasis amethistina has been placed in the following genera, Liasis, then Python then Morelia and now Austroliasis.
In reality all Australian python species excluding Aspidites are fairly closely related, and an argument could be made to place all in a single genus with further placement in sub-genera. The conflict here is one between 'Lumpers' who would agree with the above statement, and 'splitters' who would fear that by placing the pythons in question into a single genus, the relationships between species may be obscured.
In the late 1970's, the Royal Melbourne Zoo had a male Carpet Python Morelia spilota successfully breed with a female Scrub Python Austroliasis amethistina, and Water Python Katrinus fuscus. The offspring produced were intermediate in characteristics between the parent snakes, and themselves appear to be fertile, although at the time of writing had not bred. Such an event indicates that the three species are closely related, and should in all probability be placed in a single genus. The above indicates potential problems for the 'Darwinian' classification of 'species'.
Hybridisation and creation of 'new' species are two practices which conservationists generally condemn, for a number of reasons. However, the case cited above was probably of great benefit to Australian herpetology, and in the long term will probably assist in the conservation of Australian pythons.
Also See: Python Taxonomy (as of 2000).
The above was from the book Australian Reptiles and Frogs by Raymond Hoser and now available on a fantastic CD-Rom along with a vast amount of other information, papers and the like on reptiles, frogs and other wildlife.