Morphology still plays a key role in the systematics and phylogenetics of most of the scorpion families and genera, including the Diplocentridae Karsch, 1880. The monophyly of this family, and the monophyly of its two subfamilies is supported by morphological characters; however, neither hypothesis has been tested using molecular data. The lack of a molecular phylogeny has prevented the study of the evolution of morphology within the family. Here, we examine the morphological evolution of several key character systems in diplocentrid systematics. We tested the monophyly of the Diplocentridae, and subsequently the validity of its two subfamilies using a five-locus phylogeny. We examined the variation and evolution of the shape of the carapace, the external surface of the pedipalp patella and the retrolateral surface of the pedipalp chelae of males and females. We also examined the phylogenetic signal of discrete and continuous characters previously reported. We show that Diplocentridae is monophyletic, but Nebinae is nested within Diplocentrinae. Therefore, Nebinae is synonymised with Diplocentrinae (new synonymy). Finally, we show that a new character system proposed here, tarsal spiniform and macrosetal counts, retains high phylogenetic signal and circumscribes independently evolving substructures within this character system.
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Vol. 31 • No. 3