Alexandr Rasnitsyn

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Alexandr Pavlovich (Alex) Rasnitsyn
Александр Павлович Расницын
Rasnitsyn at an amber locality in Alava, Spain
Born (1936-09-24)September 24, 1936
Moscow, USSR
Residence Soviet Union, Russia
Fields Entomologist, paleontologist
Institutions Paleontological Institute, RAS
Alma mater Moscow State University
Known for paleoentomologist
Notable awards Honored Scientist of Russian Federation, 2001

Alexandr Pavlovich Rasnitsyn (Russian: Александр Павлович Расницын) is a Russian entomologist, expert in palaeoentomology, and Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation (2001).[1] 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.


File:Rasnitsyn AP.jpg
A.P. Rasnitsyn in his laboratory

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).[2]

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.[2]

During more than 20 field seasons between 1956 and 2009 Rasnitsyn conducted field work in various regions of Russia and the former USSR, including Fergana Valley, Issyk Kul, Central Asia, Transbaikalia, Taimyr, Okhotsk, Sikhote-Alin, and other parts of Siberia, Far East, and Mongolia.[2]


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[3] new genera and over 800[4] new species of fossil insects from various orders.[2]

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.[2]

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.[2]

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.[2]

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.[2]

Rasnitsyn has also made a significant contribution to paleoecology and in collaboration with Vladimir Zherikhin developed the theory of ecological crises.[2]

File:Ross brothers rasnitsyn.jpg
Three presidents of the International Palaeoentomological Society at the FossilsX3, Vitoria-Gasteiz, 2007: Andrew Ross, Denis Brothers, and Alexandr Rasnitsyn

New taxa described by Alexandr Rasnitsyn

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,[32] as well as some taxa of higher rank:


A.P. Rasnitsyn is an author of more than 300 books and articles, including 17 monographs.

Major works

  • 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].

External links


  1. RASNITSYN Александр Павлович (
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Denis J. Brothers (2011). "Alexandr Pavlovich Rasnitsyn, (palaeo)entomologist extraordinaire – a personal appreciation". In D.E. Shcherbakov, M.S. Engel, & M.J. Sharkey (ed.). Advances in the Systematics of Fossil and Modern Insects: Honouring Alexandr Rasnitsyn. ZooKeys. 130. Pensoft. pp. 1–10. doi:10.3897/zookeys.130.1890.CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Nomenclator Zoologicus
  4. EDNA Database
  5. 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].
  6. 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.
  7. Rasnitsyn AP (1963) The Late Jurassic Hymenoptera of Karatau. Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1963(1): 86–99 [In Russian].
  8. 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.
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 Rasnitsyn AP (1975) Hymenoptera Apocrita of the Mesozoic. Trudy Paleontologicheskogo Instituta Akademii Nauk SSSR 147: 1–134 [In Russian].
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 10.9 Rasnitsyn 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].
  11. 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].
  12. 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].
  13. 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].
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 Rasnitsyn 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].
  15. 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].
  16. 16.0 16.1 Rasnitsyn 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].
  17. Rasnitsyn A.P. Ichneumonoidea (Hymenoptera) from the Lower Cretaceous of Mongolia // Contrib. Amer. Entomol. Inst. 1983. V. 20. P. 259–265.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Rasnitsyn AP (1964) New Triassic Hymenoptera of the middle Asia. Paleontologicheskiy Zhurnal 1964(1): 88–96 [In Russian].
  25. 25.0 25.1 Rasnitsyn 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].
  26. 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.].
  27. 27.0 27.1 Rasnitsyn 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].
  28. Carpenter J.M., Rasnitsyn A.P. Mesozoic Vespidae // Psyche. 1990. V. 97. № 1–2. P. 1–20.
  29. Rasnitsyn A.P. Archaeoscoliinae, an extinct subfamily of scoliid wasps (Insecta: Vespida = Hymenoptera: Scoliidae) // J. Hymenoptera Res. 1993. V. 2. № 1. P. 85–95.
  30. 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].
  31. 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].
  32. ION Database
  33. A.V. Gorochov (2011). "A new, enigmatic family for new genus and species of Polyneoptera from the Upper Permian of Russia". ZooKeys. 130: 132. doi:10.3897/zookeys.130.1487.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. J. Prokop & A. Nel (2011). "New Middle Permian palaeopteran insects from Lodève Basin in southern France (Ephemeroptera, Diaphanopterodea, Megasecoptera)". ZooKeys. 130: 45. doi:10.3897/zookeys.130.1311.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. D. Brothers (2011). "A new Late Cretaceous family of Hymenoptera, and phylogeny of the Plumariidae and Chrysidoidea (Aculeata)". ZooKeys. 130 (130): 515–42. doi:10.3897/zookeys.130.1591. PMC 3260779. PMID 22259297.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. A. Homan & P. Wegierek (2011). "A new family of aphids (Hemiptera, Sternorrhyncha) from the Lower Cretaceous of Baissa, Transbaikalia". ZooKeys. 130: 168. doi:10.3897/zookeys.130.1444.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Krivolutzkii & Ryabinin, Dokl.Akad.Nauk SSSR 230: 946.
  38. A.S. Lelej & A. van Harten (2006). Zootaxa. 1226: 27.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. A. Emeljanov & D. Shcherbakov (2011). "A new genus and species of Dictyopharidae (Homoptera) from Rovno and Baltic amber based on nymphs". ZooKeys. 130: 177. doi:10.3897/zookeys.130.1775.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. W. Wichard, E. Ross & A. Ross (2011). "Palerasnitsynus gen. N. (Trichoptera, Psychomyiidae) from Burmese amber". ZooKeys. 130: 324. doi:10.3897/zookeys.130.1449.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. W. Zessin, C. Brauckmann & E. Gröning (2011). "Rasnitsynala sigambrorum gen. et sp. n., a small odonatopterid ("Eomeganisoptera", "Erasipteridae") from the early Late Carboniferous of Hagen-Vorhalle (Germany)". ZooKeys. 130: 59. doi:10.3897/zookeys.130.1458.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>