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Morelia spilota (LACÉPÈDE, 1804)

IUCN Red List - Morelia spilota - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaPythonidae, Henophidia, Pythonoidea, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
SubspeciesMorelia spilota cheynei WELLS & WELLINGTON 1984
Morelia spilota harrisoni HOSER 2000
Morelia spilota mcdowelli WELLS & WELLINGTON 1984
Morelia spilota metcalfei WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985
Morelia spilota spilota (LACÉPÈDE 1804)
Morelia spilota variegata GRAY 1842 
Common NamesE: Carpet python, Diamond 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 
SynonymColuber spilotus LACÉPÈDE 1804: 209
Python punctatus MERREM 1820: 90
Python peronii WAGLER 1828
Morelia variegata GRAY 1842
Morelia argus — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1844: 385
Morelia argus fasciolata JAN 1864
Python spilotes — BOULENGER 1893: 82
Morelia spilota macrospila WERNER 1910 (fide LOVERIDGE 1934: 270)
Python spilotus — DE ROOIJ 1917: 26
Python spilotus — MCDOWELL 1975: 63
Python bredli GOW 1981 (fide KLUGE 1993)
Python spilotus imbricatus SMITH 1981
Morelia metcalfei WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985
Montypythonoides riversleighensis SMITH & PLANE 1985 (fide KLUGE 1993)
Morelia spilota — KLUGE 1993
Morelia spilota — MCDIARMID, CAMPBELL & TOURÉ 1999: 173
Morelia spilota — COGGER 2000: 614
Morelia mippughae HOSER 2003
Morelia spilota — MENSE 2006
Morelia metcalfei — GREER 2006 (online)
Morelia wellsi HOSER 2012
Morelia argus — PHILIPPEN 2012
Morelia spilota — REYNOLDS et al. 2014
Morelia spilota — WALLACH et al. 2014: 453

Morelia spilota spilota (LACÉPÈDE 1804)
Coluber spilotus LACÉPÈDE 1804
Morelia spilotes spilotes — WORRELL 1961
Morelia argus argus — STIMSON 1969
Python spilotus spilotus — SMITH 1981: 222
Morelia spilota spilota — MENSE 2006

Morelia spilota cheynei WELLS & WELLINGTON 1984
Morelia cheynei WELLS & WELLINGTON 1984
Morelia spilota cheynei — FRANZ 2003
Morelia spilota cheynei — MENSE 2006
Morelia spilota cheynei — MATTISON 2007: 210
Morelia cheynei — GREER 2006 (online)
Morelia spilota cheynei — ALCINI 2009
Morelia spilota cheynei — MENSE 2010
Morelia spilota cheynei — MENSE 2016
Morelia spilota cheynei — MENDYK 2020

Morelia spilota harrisoni HOSER 2000
Morelia harrisoni HOSER 2000
Morelia spilotus variegatus — SMITH 1981: 224
Morelia spilota harrisoni — MENSE 2006
Morelia spilota harrisoni — MENSE 2016
Morelia spilota harrisoni — KUNZ 2017

Morelia spilota mcdowelli WELLS & WELLINGTON 1984
Morelia mcdowelli WELLS & WELLINGTON 1984
Morelia spilota mcdowelli — FRANZ 2003
Morelia spilota mcdowelli — MENSE 2006
Morelia mcdowelli — GREER 2006 (online)
Morelia spilota mcdowelli — MENSE 2016

Morelia spilota metcalfei WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985
Morelia metcalfei WELLS & WELLINGTON 1985: 41
Morelia spilotes metcalfei — MICHAEL et al. 2011
Morelia spilota metcalfei — MENSE 2016
Morelia spilota metcalfei — MURPHY 2016

Morelia spilota variegata GRAY
Morelia variegata GRAY 1842: 43
Morelia variegata — MACLEAY 1877: 34
Morelia variegata — MCCOY 1878: 13
Morelia argus variegata — MITCHELL 1951: 545
Morelia spilotes variegata — MITCHELL 1955
Morelia argus variegata — STIMSON 1969
Python spilotus variegatus — SMITH 1981: 224
Morelia variegata — RICHMAN et al. 1988
Python spilotes variegatus — WOLFF 1989
Morelia spilota variegata — FRANZ 2003
Morelia spilota variegata — MENSE 2006
Morelia variegata — GREER 2006 (online)
Morelia spilota variegata — MENSE 2016
Morelia spilota variegata — ESQUERRÉ et al. 2020 
DistributionNew Guinea,
Australia (New South Wales, 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 to N New South Wales

metcalfei: from S Queensland, New South Wales 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’.

spilota: coastal New South Wales.

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: 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). 
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.

Subspecies: Morelia spilota imbricata SMITH 1981 has been elevated to full species status.

Distribution: 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].

Type species: Morelia variegata GRAY 1842 is the type species of the genus Morelia GRAY 1842 (designated by MCDOWELL 1975). Note that there is also an African plant genus called Morelia.

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).

Etymology: Morelia mippughae was named “in honour of Mrs Mip Pugh of Breakwater, Victoria for her long term contributions to herpetology. She is part of the husband and wife team, the other half being Mick Pugh (whom this species is not named in honour). Mip has over the last few decades given free of charge many hundreds of hours of useful advice and guidance to reptile keepers in Victoria, especially in relation to her favorite reptiles, which are lizard species such as Bearded Dragons (Pogona spp.) and other commonly kept species. Her house has often been a defacto hotel suite for countless other herpetologists who have enjoyed her hospitality.” [from HOSER 2003] 
EtymologyNamed after Greek spilotos (= stained, tattooed), alluding to the blotched pattern.

The origin of the genus name was not explained by Gray (1842a: 43). However, Meagher 2012 thinks it very likely honours French zoologist Pierre Marie Arthur Morelet (1809–1892), whose name was abbreviated to ‘Morel.’ in zoological works.

M. spilota metcalfei was named after Dean Metcalfe, an amateur zoologist from Sydney (Wells and Wellington 1985: 41). 
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