As previously recognised, this genus includes the carpet snakes (spilota, variegata, cheynei, imbricata, metcalfei, macdowelli and bredli), rough-scaled (carinata), scrub (amethistina) Oenpelli (oenpelliensis) and Boelen's (boeleni) Pythons.
The genus also has been expanded by some authors to include the closely related species viridis, (herein placed in Chondropython:see above).
However this author believes that the generic arrangement as proposed by Wells and Wellington (1985a) is more appropriate. They split off the Scrub and Oenpelli pythons into their own separate genera.
They assigned the name Australiasis for the Scrub Pythons (in 1983) and Nyctophilopython for the Oenpelli Python (in 1985). This author suspects that the non-use of those names by later publishing herpetologists has at least as much to with the general inertia towards the authors Wells and Wellington as the true taxonomic status of these snakes. Furthermore, while the Boelen's Python (boeleni) has close affinities with the carpet pythons, there is no evidence before this author to suggest that the relationship is any closer than that between the Green (viridis) and carpets. Thus if viridis is entitled to be placed in a separate genus to the carpets, so too should boeleni.
Therefore the species boeleni is herein placed in the new genus Lenhoserus (see genus description earlier in this paper). While generally endorsing the Wells and Wellington position on the generic arrangement they have proposed, I acknowledge that I will become unpopular in some circles for using them here. I will no doubt be criticised for further splitting of the Australasian python genera by some herpetologists, including those who wish to call all or most either 'Python' or 'Morelia'. However there is little doubt that some of this criticism will be a hidden form of saying 'that makes sense, but, why didn't I do this first?'. Notwithstanding this, I believe that it is in the interests of herpetology to move beyond petty personal matters and use more appropriate names if available. In this case they are.
Thus the new arrangement is as follows:
Genus Austroliasis includes: Austroliasis amethistina
(Schneider, 1801) Austroliasis timorensis (Peters, 1877)
Genus Nyctophilopython includes: Nyctophilopython oenpelliensis (Gow, 1977)
Genus Lenhoserus includes: Lenhoserus boeleni (Brongersma, 1953)
SPECIES OF MORELIA NOW RECOGNISED
Morelia bredli (Gow, 1981)
Morelia carinata (Smith, 1981)
Morelia cheynei Wells and Wellington, 1983
Morelia harrisoni sp. nov. (this paper)
Morelia imbricata (Smith, 1981)
Morelia macdowelli Wells and Wellington, 1983
Morelia metcalfei Wells and Wellington, 1985
Morelia spilota (Lacepede, 1804)
Morelia variegata (Gray, 1824)
For diagnostic information on the various species described above, refer to Gow (1977, 1981), Hoser (1989), O'Shea (1996), Smith (1981), Wells and Wellington (1983, 1985a) and references therein.
Cogger (1983), and Wells and Wellington (1983, 1985a) give type locality details for the various forms as described below except for M. harrisoni sp. nov. which is described in this paper. The various Morelia pythons can be summarized as below:
* Morelia bredli (Gow, 1981) - Centralian Carpet Python. Separated from others in the genus except carinata by it's distinct bluish-grey eye. M. bredli has less rugose scalation than carinata.
* Morelia carinata (Smith, 1981) - Rough-scaled Python, known only from the Kimberley ranges in WA. Refer to Hoser (1991b) for further details and a photo of the species). Also see the original description by Smith (1981).
* Morelia cheynei Wells and Wellington, 1983 - Jungle Carpet Python. Known from the Atherton Tableland and nearby areas of North-east Queensland. These snakes rarely exceed two and a half metres. Adults are usually slightly less than two metres. They are often characterised by contrasting yellow and black markings.
* Morelia imbricata (Smith, 1981) - The south-west Australian population of carpet snakes. They are characterised by an imbricate pattern, hence their scientific name. They also occur on some islands off the SA coast.
* Morelia macdowelli Wells and Wellington, 1983 - This is the 'Coastal Carpet' from northern NSW and south-east Queensland. This is perhaps the largest of the Carpets with specimens in excess of 3 metres fairly common.
* Morelia metcalfei Wells and Wellington, 1985 - The Murray-Darling Carpet. This is a smallish race with an unusually even temperement. Usually distinguishable by it's creamy colouration around the head.
* Morelia spilota (Lacepede, 1804) - Diamond Python. Found in coastal NSW south of Port Macquarie and adjacent parts of far north-east Victoria.
* Morelia variegata (Gray, 1824) - Top-end Carpet Python. Found from Cape York, Queensland, west to the Kimberley in WA, including the tropical parts of the NT.
Barker and Barker (1999) detail the status of the various types of carpet python (Morelia) in captivity as of mid 1999. This includes M. harrisoni, which they identify as the carpet snakes coming from the island of New Guinea.
It also is presumed that all Morelia species (as classified here) will hybridise in captivity (refer to Hoser 1999a). Furthermore it is known that the following hybridisations in captivity have been done.
Morelia cheynei X Katrinus fuscus fuscus
Morelia cheynei X Austroliasis amethistina
Chondropython viridis X Morelia sp. (carpet snake)
The first two cases are detailed in Hoser (1989). This author knows nothing of the latter case other than a photo e-mailed to him in late 1999 from a website called "marvelous mutants". The snake depicted was an immature specimen.
Click on this text or on the image below to download the high resolution version of the below photo (.7 MB) which has no caption information on it.
The above was from the paper - A revision of the Australiasian Pythons.
(Originally published in Ophidia Review 1(1) in "Autumn" 2000 - (Publication date: October 2000), pp. 7-27).
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photos exactly as it appeared in the journal Ophidia Review - as an Adobe Acrobat pdf file
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