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Morelia imbricata SMITH, 1981

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Higher TaxaPythonidae, Henophidia, Pythonoidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Carpet python, Diamond Python
imbricata: South-western Carpet Python
cheynei: Jungle Carpet Python; G: Dschungel-Teppichpython
mcdowelli: Coastal Carpet Python, McDowell's Carpet Python
spilota: Diamond Python
variegata: North-western Carpet Python, Torresian Carpet Python, Darwin Carpet Python
metcalfei: Inland Carpet Python, Riverine Carpet Python, Murray-Darling Carpet Python
G: Rautenpython, Teppichpython, Diamantpython 
SynonymMorelia spilota imbricata SMITH 1981
Morelia spilota imbricata — STORR et al. 2002
Morelia spilota imbricata — FRANZ 2003
Morelia macburniei HOSER 2003
Morelia spilota imbricata — MENSE 2006
Morelia imbricata — GREER 2006 (online)
Morelia imbricata — BARKER et al. 2015
Morelia imbricata — EIPPER & EIPPER 2019
Morelia imbricata — ESQUERRÉ et al. 2020 
DistributionNew Guinea,
Australia (Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria except South, N and S Western Australia; not in the arid center of Australia)

cheynei: NE Queensland

harrisoni: southern coast of Papua New Guinea to the Indonesian part of West Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), in West Papua up to Merauke.

mcdowelli: from N Cape York through Queensland

metcalfei: from S Queensland and N Victoria to South Australia.

macburniei: Australia (South Australia: St. Francis Island); Type locality: St. Francis Island, South Australia.

mippughae: Australia (South Australia, North Flinders Ranges); Type locality: Moolooloo, North Flinders Ranges, South Australia, Lat: 30°59’ Long: 138°35’.

imbricata: S Western Australia.

variegata: N Australia.

Type locality: "Nouvelle-Hollande" [= Australia]  
Reproductionoviparous. KIVIT & WISEMAN (2005) report a hybrid between M. viridis and M. spilota cheynei. BANKS & SCHWANER (1984) describe a hybrid between Morelia spilota and Liasis mackloti as well as hybrids between Morelia spilota and Morelia amethistina. 
TypesHolotype: MNHN-RA 3272, reported to be lost, according to Stimson (1969:28) but present on March 2019 (checked by I. Ineich)
Holotype: "RIB General No. 4414 (Type No. 2496)." MR HN 2496, listed as syntype by Lang, 1990 [macrospila]
Holotype: South Australian Museum (SAM), Adelaide, SA, Specimen number: R1665 [mippughae]
Holotype: SAMA R13994 [macburniei]
Holotype: AMS R111989 (field no. 28562) [cheynei]
Holotype: WAM R54340 [imbricata]
Holotype: AMS R116989 (field no. 28458) [mcdowelli]
Holotype: AMS R116988 (field no. 16782) [metcalfei]
Holotype: BMNH iv.1.2a [variegata]
Holotype: AMNH 82433, female [harrisoni] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): This is a genus of pythonid snakes of large size, with adult lengths of > 2 m to 5.5 m. This genus is shown to be a monophyletic clade separated from all other python clades on the basis of molecular characters as illustrated in Figure 6 (in Barker et al. 2015, Pyron et al., 2013). Likewise, the morphological analysis illustrated in Figure 1 (Kluge, 1993) shows the split as internal to Morelia. Simalia shares a common ancestor with the clade of pythons comprised of Morelia, Apodora, Liasis, Aspidites, Antaresia, Leiopython, and Bothrochilus.
Simalia can be separated from Apodora, Aspidites, Antaresia, and Liasis by the presence and condition of the thermoreceptive pits on the supralabials and rostral. Species in Simalia have two large, deep thermoreceptive pits on the rostral scale and well developed thermoreceptive pits on 2–5 anterior supralabials; Aspidites and Bothrochilus have no thermoreceptive pits on the rostral and supralabials; Antaresia and Liasis typically have no pits in the rostral. Apodora has shallow pits on the rostral and anterior 2–3 supralabials. Leiopython varies in the condition of labial pits; most have a pitted rostral and the first 2–3 supralabials may have pits.
Simalia have subloreal scales, while Kluge (1993) did not observe subloreal scales in Bothrochilus or Leiopython; species in Simalia have > 4 loreal scales while Bothrochilus and Leiopython have 1–2. Simalia has a strongly prehensile tail, while the tail of Aspidites, Antaresia, Leiopython, and Liasis is weakly prehensile (McDowell, 1975).
Simalia can be distinguished from Morelia by the condition of the head scalation. Species in Simalia have large plate-like head scales identified as supraoculars, frontals, and one or more pairs of parietals. Simalia oenpelliensis varies from this formula, and has small parietals and irregular scalation posterior to large supraoculars that are in full contact with a large frontal.
The only large scales that might be considered ‘platelike’ on the dorsal surface of the head of Morelia species are small internasals and anterior prefrontals on the front of the snout. M. carinata is one exception and it typically has a single round frontal centered between the eyes and surrounded by small scales, separated from contact with relatively large anterior supraoculars (Barker et al. 2015: 13).

DIAGNOSIS: A medium to large python similar in most respects to the others in the genus Morelia. It is separated from one of its closest relatives Morelia macburniei sp. nov. (see below) by a suite of characteristics including a lower incidence of scale anomalies particularly with regards to ventral scales in the from of longitudinally split ventrals, half ventrals, transversely divided ventrals or incompletely transversely divided ventrals, remnant or partially inserted ventrals or incompletely formed ventrals (such as in two halves).

This species is differentiated from Morelia macburniei sp. nov. from St. Francis Island by having more rhomboidal-shaped dorsal scales as opposed to having lanceolate-shaped dorsal scales. Morelia mippughae sp. nov. is separated from the closely related Morelia metcalfei (the Murray/Darling form), (which it would have previously keyed out as using existing (pre 2002 taxonomy)) by a suite of characteristics including it’s dorsal colour pattern. Morelia mippughae sp. nov. is pale reddish brown dorsally, with broad transverse black-edged patches on the top of the back and a wide pale lateral zone for about a third of its length [from HOSER 2003].

Morelia mippughae sp. nov. is restricted to the Flinders and Middleback Ranges areas of South Australia. No other Morelia occurs here. Numbers of this species have declined sharply since European settlement, (Ian Renton and Ted Mertens personal communications). This author hereby calls for specimens of Morelia mippughae sp. nov. to be taken into captivity and bred in numbers in order to secure the survival of this taxa [from HOSER 2003].

Morelia mippughae sp. nov. is separated from all other Morelia by colouration and patterns as seen from a comparison of specimens, comparative DNA properties and distribution [from HOSER 2003]

CommentType species: Coluber spilotus LACÉPÈDE 1804 is the type species of the genus Morelia GRAY 1842: 43. Cogger 1983: 205 erroneously designated M. variegata as type species.

Synonymy partly after KLUGE 1993. Quite variable species (brown/red, green, yellow, and blue forms are known!). The name Python spilotes macropsila was proposed for this population by Werner (1909), type locality of "Australia", but unfortunately the holotype was lost. This subspecies was recognized by Hoser (1989). If the holotype eventually is found, M. s. macropsila may replace M. s. mcdowelli as the subspecific name for the Eastern Carpet Python [KEND 2000]. Morelia antiqua (SMITH & PLANE 1985) is a synonym of the extinct species Morelia riversleighensis (SMITH & PLANE 1985). Kaiser et al. 2013 rejected the (sub-) generic names Jackypython Hoser 2009, Lenhoserus Hoser 2000 invalid and rejected their use instead of Morelia.

Type species: Morelia variegata GRAY 1842 is the type species of the genus Morelia GRAY 1842 (designated by MCDOWELL 1975).

Morelia mippughae is a nomen dubium fide SCHLEIP & O’SHEA 2010.

NCBI taxon ID: available for most subspecies.

Habitat: partly arboreal (Harrington et al. 2018). 
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