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What are vaejovids?

Family Vaejovidae
Genus Paravaejovis

Genus Paruroctonus
Genus Pseudouroctonus
Genus Serradigitus
Genus Smeringurus
Genus Syntropis
Genus Uroctonites
Genus Uroctonus
Genus Vaejovis
Genus Vejovoidus

Why study vaejovids?




Cladogram of the Vaejovidae (Stockwell,1992)

Until recently, the monophyly of Vaejovidae, as redefined by Stockwell (1992), was undisputed (Stockwell 1989; Sissom 2000; Coddington et al. 2004). The recent transferal of Uroctonus from Vaejovidae to subfamily Uroctoninae of Chactidae by Soleglad & Fet (2003, 2004) has, however, rendered Vaejovidae (and Chactidae) paraphyletic. We reject the revised higher classification of scorpions proposed by these authors because the methods used in their phylogenetic analysis have been discredited and consequently their conclusions cannot be justified (Prendini & Wheeler 2005). For example, Uroctoninae sensu Soleglad & Fet (2003, 2004) is supported by false synapomorphies (e.g. 𔃒 lateral ocelli). Anuroctonus and Uroctonus are not sister taxa, let alone closely related based on analyses by others (e.g. Stockwell 1989) and work in progress, where characters supporting alternative hypotheses have also been included.

The phylogenetic placement of Vaejovidae also remains unclear梒ontrast, for example, its placement by Lamoral (1980), Stockwell (1989) and Soleglad & Fet (2003)梐nd its component genera a taxonomic shambles. Major genera, e.g. Pseudouroctonus and Vaejovis, are not monophyletic. The validity of smaller genera (several monotypic) is also dubious. Generic diagnoses are unworkable and, aside from species in Baja California, there are no comprehensive keys. This unsatisfactory situation will remain until an analysis of phylogenetic relationships in the family has been undertaken and generic limits have been redefined in terms of monophyly and synapomorphy. Preliminary evidence suggests that several new genera should be erected, whereas others (mostly monotypic) should be synonymized (Louren鏾 & Sissom 2000; Sissom 2000). A phylogenetic analysis including all or most of vaejovid species is essential for resolving both the phylogenetic position and generic composition of the family.

Literature Cited: 

Coddington, J.A., Giribet, G., Harvey, M.S., Prendini, L., & Walter, D.E. 2004. Arachnida. In: Cracraft, J. and Donoghue, M. (Eds.) Assembling the Tree of Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 296318.

Lamoral, B.H. 1980. A reappraisal of the suprageneric classification of recent scorpions and their zoogeography. In: Gruber, J. (Ed.) Verhandlungen. 8. Internationaler Arachnologen Kongress abgehalten ander Universit鋞 f黵 Bodenkultur Wien, 712 Juli, 1980. H. Egermann, Vienna, 439-444

Louren鏾, W.R. & Sissom, W.D. 2000. Scorpiones. In: Bousquets, J.L., Gonz醠ez Soriano, E. & Papavero, N. (Eds.) Biodiversidad, Taxonom韆 y Biogeograph韆 de Artr髉odos de M閤ico: Hacia una S韓tesis de su Concimiento. Volume II. Universidad Nacional Aut髇oma de M閤ico, Ciudad de M閤ico, 115135.

Prendini, L. & Wheeler, W.C. 2005. Scorpion higher phylogeny and classification, taxonomic anarchy, and standards for peer review in online publishing. Cladistics 21: 446494.

Sissom, W.D. 2000. Family Vaejovidae. In: Fet, V., Sissom, W.D., Lowe, G. & Braunwalder, M.E. Catalog of the Scorpions of the World (17581998). The New York Entomological Society, New York, 503553.

Soleglad, M.E. & Fet, V. 2003. High-level systematics and phylogeny of the extant scorpions (Scorpiones: Orthosterni). Euscorpius 11: 1175.

Soleglad, M.E. & Fet, V. 2004. The systematics of the scorpion subfamily Uroctoninae (Scorpiones: Chactidae). Revista Ib閞ica de Aracnolog韆 10: 81128.

Stockwell, S.A. 1989. Revision of the phylogeny and higher classification of scorpions (Chelicerata). Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.

Stockwell, S.A. 1992. Systematic observations on North American Scorpionida with a key and checklist of the families and genera. Journal of Medical Entomology 29: 407422.


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