Alexandr Pavlovich Rasnitsyn (Russian: Александр Павлович Расницын) is a Russian entomologist, expert in palaeoentomology, and Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation (2001).
His scientific interests are centered on the palaeontology, phylogeny, and taxonomy of hymenopteran insects and insects in general. He has also studied broader biological problems such as evolutionary theory, the principles of phylogenetics, taxonomy, nomenclature, and palaeoecology. He has published over 300 articles and books in several languages. In August 2008 he was awarded the Distinguished Research Medal of the International Society of Hymenopterists.
Alexandr Pavlovich (Alex) Rasnitsyn Александр Павлович Расницын
Alexandr Rasnitsyn was born on 24 September 1936 in Moscow. As a schoolboy Alex was active in the Society of Young Biologists at the Moscow Zoo. In 1955 he became a student at the Biological Faculty of the Moscow State University and in 1960 he graduated with honors from the Department of Entomology. His Master thesis was "Hibernation in the ichneumon-fly subfamily Ichneumoninae". The same year Rasnitsyn joined the Laboratory of Arthropods at the Paleontological institute, Academy of Sciences of USSR. In 1967 he received his Ph.D. in biology from the Paleontological Institute with the thesis "The Mesozoic Hymenoptera Symphyta and the early evolution of Xyelidae". After defending in 1978 his Dr. hab. (doktor nauk) thesis "The origin and evolution of Hymenoptera" Rasnitsyn became Head of the Laboratory of Arthropods. In 1991 he received the title of a Biology Professor. In 1996 he resigned from heading the Laboratory and continued there as a principal research worker, but after the new leader, Vladimir Zherikhin, died in 2001 Rasnitsyn again became the acting Head of the Laboratory (2002—present).
Between 2001 and 2005 Rasnitsyn served as President of the International Palaeoentomological Society. Since 2007 he is serving on the Council of the Russian Entomological Society.
Rasnitsyn has one son, Dmitri, who is from a previous marriage. Dmitri married a Masha Kreinin and Rasnitsyn now has three grandchildren; Alexandra, Shelly, and Jonathan Rasnitsyn, who all live in the US.
One of the world’s leading paleoentomologists, Rasnitsyn has described ca. 250 new genera and over 800 new species of fossil insects from various orders.
He is one of the foremost authorities on the paleontology and systematics of Hymenoptera whose ideas have formed the foundation of the modern classification of that insect order. Instead of the traditional division into Symphyta and Apocrita, he divided the order into “sawflies” (Siricina) and “stinging and parasitic wasps’’ (Vespina), the latter suborder including the parasitic Orussoidea, traditionally placed in the Symphyta.
Rasnitsyn suggested his own hypothesis on the origin of insect flight. According to him, the wings first evolved, as a means to control gliding, in relatively large insects that had turned to feeding on generative organs of arboreal plants.
Rasnitsyn is one of the most consistent opponents of cladism. He develops an alternative approach to biological systematics, called “phyletics”, which differs from phenetics in taking into account genealogy in addition to similarities and hiatuses.
He also contributed significantly to the epigenetic theory of evolution and, in particular, has put forward the concept of “adaptive compromise” and the notion of macroevolution being irreducible to microevolutionary processes alone.
Rasnitsyn has also made a significant contribution to paleoecology and in collaboration with Vladimir Zherikhin developed the theory of ecological crises.
Three presidents of the International Palaeoentomological Society at the FossilsX3, Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2007: Andrew Ross, Denis Brothers, and Alexandr Rasnitsyn
Subfamily †Praesiricinae Rasn., 1968 – was described as a subfamily of Karatavitidae Rasn., 1963, later was raised to the family rank, Praesiricidae Rasn. 1968
Subfamily †Madygellinae Rasn., 1969 – a subfamily of Xyelidae Newman, 1834
Subfamily †Cleistogastrinae Rasn., 1975 – a subfamily of Megalyridae Schletterer, 1889
Subfamily Proscoliinae Rasn., 1977 – a recent subfamily of Scoliidae
Subfamily †Juralydinae Rasn., 1977 – a subfamily ofPamphiliidae Cameron, 1890
Subfamily †Mesorussinae Rasn., 1977 – a subfamily of Orussidae Mewman, 1834
Subfamily †Cretogonalinae Rasn., 1977 – a subfamily of Trigonalidae Cresson, 1867
Subfamily †Manlayinae Rasn., 1986 – a subfamily of Aulacidae Schuckard, 1841
Subfamily †Ghilarellinae Rasn., 1986 – a subfamily of Sepulcidae Rasn., 1968
Subfamily †Trematothoracinae Rasn., 1986 – a subfamily of Sepulcidae Rasn., 1968
Subfamily †Priorvespinae Carpenter et Rasnitsyn, 1990 – a subfamily of Vespidae Latrielle, 1802
Subfamily †Archaeoscoliinae Rasnitsyn, 1993 – a subfamily of Scoliidae
Subfamily †Karataoserphinae Rasnitsyn, 1994 – a subfamily of Mesoserphidae Kozlov, 1970
Subfamily †Iscopininae Rasnitsyn, 1980 – a subfamily of Pelecinidae Haliday, 1840.
Tribe †Angaridyelini Rasn., 1966 – a tribe of the subfamily Macroxyelinae Ashmead, 1898 of the family Xyelidae
Tribe †Cretodinapsini Rasn., 1977 – a tribe of the subfamily Megalyrinae of the family Megalyridae
Tribe †Gigantoxyelini Rasn., 1969 – a tribe of the subfamily Macroxyelinae Ashmead, 1898 of the family Xyelidae Newmann, 1834
A.P. Rasnitsyn has also described ca. 250 new genera and over 800 new species of arthropods, mainly fossil.
Animal names in honor of Alexandr Rasnitsyn
Over 50 species of animals have been named in honor of Rasnitsyn, as well as some taxa of higher rank:
Rasnicynipidae Kovalev, 1996 (a replacement name for Rasnitsyniidae Kovalev, 1994)— a fossil family of Cynipoidea with the genus Rasnicynips Kovalev, 1996 (a replacement name for Rasnitsynia Kovalev 1994)
Alexarasniidae Gorochov, 2011 — a fossil family of Polyneoptera with the genus Alexarasnia Gorochov, 2011
Alexrasnitsyniidae Prokop & Nel, 2011 — a family of the Paleozoic order Diaphanopterodea with the genus Alexrasnitsynia Prokop & Nel, 2011
Rasnitsynala Zessin, Brauckmann et Groening, 2011 — a genus of Odonata from the family Erasipteridae
A.P. Rasnitsyn is an author of more than 300 books and articles, including 17 monographs.
Rasnitsyn AP (1969) Origin and evolution of lower Hymenoptera. Trudy Paleontologicheskogo Instituta Akademii Nauk SSSR 123: 1–196 [In Russian, with English translation by Amerind Co., New Delhi, 1979].
Rasnitsyn AP (1975) Hymenoptera Apocrita of the Mesozoic. Trudy Paleontologicheskogo Instituta Akademii Nauk SSSR 147: 1–134 [In Russian].
Rasnitsyn AP (1980) Origin and evolution of Hymenoptera. Trudy Paleontologicheskogo Instituta Akademii Nauk SSSR 174: 1–192 [In Russian].
Rohdendorf BB, Rasnitsyn AP, editors (1980) Historical development of the class Insecta. Trudy Paleontologicheskogo Instituta Akademii Nauk SSSR 175: 1–269, +8 pls. [In Russian].
Rasnitsyn AP, Quicke DLJ, editors (2002) History of Insects. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, xii+517 pp. ISBN 1-4020-0026-X.
Rasnitsyn AP (2005) Selected Works on Evolutionary Biology. KMK Scientific Press, Moscow, Russia, iv+347 pp [In Russian] [Collection of earlier papers, except for: “Dynamics of taxonomic diversity: An afterword of 2004”, pp. 247–248]. ISBN 978-5-87317-454-6
Zherikhin VV, Ponomarenko AG, Rasnitsyn AP (2008) Introduction to Palaeoentomology. KMK Scientific Press, Moscow, 371 pp. [In Russian].
^Rasnitsyn AP (1983) First record of a moth in the Jurassic. Doklady Akademii Nauk SSSR 269(2): 467–471 [In Russian, with English translation in Doklady Biological Sciences [Transactions of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, Biological Sciences Section], 1983].
^Rasnitsyn A.P., Kozlov M.V. A new group of fossil insects: scorpions with cicada and butterfly adaptations // Trans. USSR Acad. Science: Earth Science Sect. 1991. V. 310. № 1–6. P. 233–236.
^Rasnitsyn AP (1963) The Late Jurassic Hymenoptera of Karatau. Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1963(1): 86–99 [In Russian].
^Rasnitsyn A.P., Ansorge J., Zhang Haichun. Ancestry of the orussoid wasps, with description of three new genera and species of Karatavitidae (Hymenoptera = Vespida: Karatavitoidea stat. nov.) // Insect Syst. Evol. 2006. V. 37. № 2. P. 179–190.
^ abcdefghijkRasnitsyn AP (1975) Hymenoptera Apocrita of the Mesozoic. Trudy Paleontologicheskogo Instituta Akademii Nauk SSSR 147: 1–134 [In Russian].
^ abcdefghijRasnitsyn AP (1968) New Mesozoic sawflies (Hymenoptera, Symphyta). In: Rohdendorf BB (Ed) Jurassic Insects of Karatau. Nauka Press, Moscow, 190–236 [total pages 252 pp., +25 pls.] [In Russian].
^Rasnitsyn AP (1972) Praeaulacidae (Hymenoptera) from the Late Jurassic of Karatau. Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1972(1): 70–87 [In Russian, with English translation in Paleontological Journal, 1972, 6(1): 62–77].
^Rasnitsyn AP (1991) Early Cretaceous members of the evaniomorphan hymenopteran families Stigmaphronidae, Cretevaniidae, and subfamily Kotujellitinae (Gasteruptiidae). Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1991(4): 128–132 [In Russian, with English translation in Paleontological Journal, 1991, 25(4): 172–179].
^Rasnitsyn AP (1980) On the system of the family Aulacidae (Hymenoptera) in connection with a new record in the Lower Cretaceous of Manlay. Trudy Sovmestnoy Sovetsko-Mongol’skoy Paleontologicheskoy Ekspeditsii 13: 65–67 [In Russian]. [Kalugina NS, editor (1980) The Early Cretaceous lake Manlay. Trudy Sovmestnoy Sovetsko-Mongol’skoy Paleontologicheskoy Ekspeditsii 13: 1–91].
^ abcdefgRasnitsyn AP (1977) New Paleozoic and Mesozoic insects. Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1977(1): 64–77 [In Russian, with English translation in Paleontological Journal, 1978, 11: 60–72].
^Rasnitsyn AP (1977) New Hymenoptera from the Jurassic and Cretaceous of Asia. Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1977(3): 98–108 [In Russian, with English translation in Paleontological Journal, 1978, 11: 349–357].
^ abRasnitsyn AP (1977) A new family of sawflies (Hymenoptera, Tenthredinoidea, Electrotomidae) from the Baltic amber. Zoologicheskiy Zhurnal 56(9): 1304–1308 [In Russian, with English summary].
^Rasnitsyn A.P. Ichneumonoidea (Hymenoptera) from the Lower Cretaceous of Mongolia // Contrib. Amer. Entomol. Inst. 1983. V. 20. P. 259–265.
^Rasnitsyn A.P. Strashila incredibilis, a new enigmatic mecopteroid insect with possible siphonapteran affinities from the Upper Jurassic of Siberia // Psyche. 1992. V. 99. № 4. P. 323–333.
^Rasnitsyn A.P., Zherikhin V.V. First fossil chewing louse from the Lower Cretaceous of Baissa, Transbaikalia (Insecta, Pediculida = Phthiriaptera, Saurodectidae fam. n.) // Rus. Entomol. J. 2000. V. 8. № 4. P. 253–255.
^Rasnitsyn A.P., Martinez-Delclos X. Wasps (Insecta: Vespida = Hymenoptera) from the Early Cretaceous of Spain // Acta Geol. Hispanica. 2000. V. 35. № 1–2. P. 65–95.
^Novokshonov V.G., Rasnitsyn A.P. A new enigmatic group of insects (Psocidea, Tshekarcephalidae) from Tshekarda (Lower Permian of the Middle Urals) // Paleontol. J. 2000. V. 34. Suppl. 3. P. S284–S287.
^Rasnitsyn A.P., Zhang Haichun. A new family, Daohugoidae fam. n., of siricomorph hymenopteran (Hymenoptera = Vespida) from the Middle Jurassic of Daohugou in Inner Mongolia (China) // Proc. Rus. Entomol. Soc. 2004. V. 75 № 1. P. 12–16.
^Ortega-Blanco J, Rasnitsyn A.P., Delclos X. A new family of ceraphronoid wasps from Early Cretaceous Alava Amber, Spain // Acta Palaeontol. Polonica. 2010. V. 55. № 2. P. 265–276.
^Rasnitsyn AP (1964) New Triassic Hymenoptera of the middle Asia. Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1964(1): 88–96 [In Russian].
^ abRasnitsyn AP (1969) The origin and evolution of lower Hymenoptera. Trudy Paleontologicheskogo Instituta Akademii Nauk SSSR 123: 1–196 [In Russian, with English translation by Amerind Co., New Delhi, 1979].
^Rasnitsyn AP (1986) Vespida (= Hymenoptera). Trudy Sovmestnoy Sovetsko-Mongol’skoy Paleontologicheskoy Ekspeditsii 28: 154–164 [In Russian]. [Rasnitsyn AP, editor (1986) Insects in the Early Cretaceous ecosystems of the West Mongolia. Trudy Sovmestnoy Sovetsko-Mongol’skoy Paleontologicheskoy Ekspeditsii 28: 1–213, +24 pls.].
^ abRasnitsyn AP (1988) Sepulcidae and origin of Cephidae (Hymenoptera: Cephoidea). Transactions of the All-Union Entomological Society 70: 480–497 [In Russian]. [Tobias VI, editor (1988) Taxonomy of Insects and Mites. Nauka Press, Moscow].
^Carpenter J.M., Rasnitsyn A.P. Mesozoic Vespidae // Psyche. 1990. V. 97. № 1–2. P. 1–20.
^Rasnitsyn A.P. Archaeoscoliinae, an extinct subfamily of scoliid wasps (Insecta: Vespida = Hymenoptera: Scoliidae) // J. Hymenoptera Res. 1993. V. 2. № 1. P. 85–95.
^Rasnitsyn AP (1994) New Late Jurassic Mesoserphidae (Vespida, Proctotrupoidea). Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1994(2): 115–119 [In Russian, with English translation in Paleontological Journal, 1994, 28: 141–147].
^Rasnitsyn AP (1966) New Xyelidae (Hymenoptera) from the Mesozoic of Asia. Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1966(4): 69–85 [In Russian, with English translation in International Geology Review, 1967, 9(5): 723–737].
Afromyrma is an extinct genus of ant in the formicid subfamily Myrmicinae, and is currently unplaced in any of the tribes of that subfamily. The genus contains a single described species, Afromyrma petrosa. Afromyrma is known from a single Upper Cretaceous fossil, which was found in Orapa in the Central District of Botswana.
Archencyrtus is an extinct genus of wasp in the Chalcidoidea family Encyrtidae. The genus contains a single described species, Archencyrtus rasnitsyni known from a Middle Eocene fossil that was found in Eastern Asia.
Myanmymar is an extinct genus of fairyfly preserved in amber from Myanmar. It has only one species, Myanmymar aresconoides. It is dated to the Early Cretaceous, at least a hundred million years ago. As of 2011, it is the oldest known fossil mymarid.
Plumalexius is a genus of wasps in the extinct monotypic family Plumalexiidae, containing a single species, Plumalexius rasnitsyni. The species is known only from the Late Cretaceous White Oaks Pit in Sayreville, New Jersey.
Prochita is an extinct genus of caddisflies in the family Dysoneuridae. It contains only one species, Prochita rasnitsyni. The genus is known from the Upper Jurassic—Lower Cretaceous of the Transbaikal region of Russia.The genus is named after the city of Chita, and the species is named after the Russian paleoentomologist Alexandr Rasnitsyn.
Sepulcidae is an extinct family of stem sawflies in the order Hymenoptera. The family is known primarily from late Mesozoic fossils found in 1968 in Transbaikalia. The insects were distant relatives of modern sawflies and are part of the living superfamily Cephoidea.
The genus Sepulca was identified by Alexandr Pavlovich Rasnitsyn. It was named by his colleague and a science-fiction author Kirill Eskov after fictional entities called sepulki, found in Stanisław Lem's The Star Diaries and Observation on the Spot. The relation to Lem's sepulki is understandable in both Polish and Russian, but their English translation obscures their association with ancient insects as they are translated as Scrupts in English editions of Lem's novels.Sepulca includes two species, as well as a number of subspecies.
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