Jungle carpet?

Discussion in 'General Reptile Discussion' started by Josiah Rossic, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. Josiah Rossic

    Josiah Rossic Well-Known Member

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    This has really been confusing me so I'v decided to try and clear it up. Carpet pythons, daimond pythons, scrub pythons, rouph scaled pythons, oenpelli pythons, green pythons and jungle pythons are all under the genus moriela, am I correct? If so, why is the jungle python often refered to as the jungle carpet python? I know that they're a sub-species of the carpet python but aren't all the other pythons listed above sub-species too? So how come only the jungle python is refered to as the jungle carpet python, and none of the others are? Is it closer related to the carpet python than the others? Just a question thats been on my mind. Any answers are appreciated :)
     
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  2. GBWhite

    GBWhite Well-Known Member

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    Hi Josiah,

    I'll try and explain this as easily as possible without going into to much details regarding taxonomy and the rules set down by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature that guide the naming of an animal or plant. It should be noted too that the term species and subspecies are open to interpretation and both terms are acceptable and recognized by the scientific community even if they refer to the same animal or plant.

    You are correct that all the above snakes are of the genus Morelia. They are members of the genus because they all share a combination of similar characteristics. That being:- Teeth on the premaxiilla (located at the tip of the upper jaw bone), heads scales are small, irregular shields [Carpets (Spilota Group), Green Pythons, Rough Scales] or symmetrical large head shields (Scrubbies and Oenpelli), labial pits, prehensile tail and they are oviparous.

    Carpets/Diamonds, Green Trees, Rough Scales, Scrubbies and Oenpellis are classified as separate taxon (group) because they display unique, individual characteristics that separate them from other members of the genus. It is currently accepted that Central Carpets (M. bredeli) and South West Carpets (M. imbricata) are a separate species to Carpets/Diamonds but the work done to separate and elevate them both to species level is questionable as it's simply based on colouration and distribution however: according to ICZN rules, colouration and distribution are not considered unique individual characteristics alone to elevate a taxon to species level. So all things considered, there is a reasonable possibility that this might change in the future once the systematics of the Carpets are better understood and confirms the status of both one way or the other.

    The Carpets are a separate species to all of the others as again they all share so many similar morphological characteristics and for this reason are often referred to as the Morelia spilota (Spotted Morelia) complex or group. Original taxonomy identifies Diamonds as the Type Specimen which means it was the first of the species to be described an allotted a binomial (scientific) name, that being Morelia spilota spilota. Then Carpets followed and were originally described as a single subspecies Morelia spilota variegatta (variegated spotted morelia).

    Wells and Wellington separated both Jungle Pythons (Morelia cheynei) and what is now referred to as Darwin Carpets (Morelia variegata) from the M. spilota group and raised them to species level in their work of 1983.

    However, In 1994 Barker and Barker considered "M. variagata" to represent 4 distinct subspecies being - Jungles (M. spilota cheynei), Coastals (M. sp mcdowelli), Murray Darling (M. sp metcalfei) and Darwins (M. sp variagata). So as it stands at the present time...you'll find that in most if not all current literature and field guides, Jungle Pythons are grouped with and considered a subspecies of the Morelia spilota group.

    So hopefully that might explain why Jungle Carpets are referred to as Jungle Carpet Pythons and other members of the Morelia Genus aren't.

    Cheers,

    George.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
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  3. Sdaji

    Sdaji APS Veteran APS Veteran

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    The short answer is that Some of what you're listing are different types of the same species, and some are separate species.

    Scrub and Oenpelli Pythons are no longer universally agreed to be within Morelia, but let's for now assume they are.

    There are three levels of taxonomy relevant here: Genus, species and subspecies. Morelia is a genus. Other examples are Aspidites and Liasis. A genus can contain many species. Aspidites contains 2 (melanocephalus/Black-headed Python and ramsayi/Woma Python) for example. These are in the same genus (Aspidites) but not the same genus. They are different species.

    You have brought up the *genus* Morelia and listed several species but also some subspecies. The *species* you listed are Morelia spilota (Carpet Python, all forms), M. amethystina (Scrub Python), M. carinata (Rough-scaled Python), M. oenpelliensis (Oenpelli Python) and M. viridus (Green Python).

    The above species are all accepted as separate species.

    Now we can look at Carpet Pythons specifically. It is a species with a wide distribution with multiple subspecies. Some of them have been (completely absurdly and confusingly) raised to full level species status, but it is blatantly incorrect, most are not accepted by most authors, and genetically the classifications are completely invalid. Within what is almost universally accepted to be within Carpet Pythons is none of the Morelia species I listed above, but does include the following: Diamond Carpet/M.spilota spilota, Inland or Murray Darling Carpet/M. spilotia metcalfei, Coastal Carpet/M. spilota mcdowelli, Jungle Carpet/M. spilota cheynei, Darwin Carpet/M. spilota variegata, and then there are the two controversial ones which in reality are Carpets and are always called Carpets but sometimes listed as separate species, Centralian Carpet/M. bredli or M. spilota bredli and South Western Carpet/M. s. imbricata.

    All the Carpets are far more closely related to each other than any other living thing.

    In reality, separating bredli and imbricata as different species is more extreme than splitting Australian aborigines from Asians, and splitting them from sub Saharan Africans. If we applied the same reasoning to humans we'd have at least a dozen species of humans, but even if we did that, they'd all be far more closely related to each other than to things like Chimpanzees and Gorillas (which by the same standards we use with animals should be in the same genus with humans, but are clearly different species).

    Think of Carpets as having different races, like humans, but all being considered part of the same species, and all other Morelia as being like Chimpanzees and Gorillas; similar but much more different from humans than any race of human is from any other race of human.
     
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  4. Josiah Rossic

    Josiah Rossic Well-Known Member

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    Thanks George, this really answered my question :)

    Thanks Sdaji, this helped me out as well. So Morelia is a genus, carpet python is a species and jungle carpet python is a subspecies. All this information has really cleared up my question :)
     
  5. Sdaji

    Sdaji APS Veteran APS Veteran

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    That's it in a nutshell.
     
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  6. Josiah Rossic

    Josiah Rossic Well-Known Member

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    Nice
     

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