This study elucidates the homology of elements of the male palps in the spider family Theridiidae. We survey and illustrate 60 species from 29 out of the 86 currently recognized genera representing all subfamilies. The study is buttressed by a phylogenetic framework, and uses a new method to evaluate critically competing homology hypotheses based on various criteria. Among the classic criteria for homology, topology performed better than special similarity, and much better than function. Guided by those results, we propose names for and correspondences among the broad diversity of theridiid palpal tegular sclerites. We discuss the phylogenetic utility and distribution of key palpal characteristics, and evaluate existing evolutionary hypotheses of the theridiid palp and its components.
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