Eugeny S. Shpinev


Eugeny S. Shpinev

Eugeny Shpinev, a young, talented paleontologist, has died suddenly and unexpectedly from embolism.

Since childhood Eugeny dreamed of traveling and of becoming a paleontologist. He graduated from the Faculty of Biology and Chemistry of the Moscow Pedagogical State University in 2004. In 20052009 he was a graduate student in the Laboratory of Arthropods of the Paleontological Institute. He studied the Paleozoic aquatic Chelicerata (eurypterids, horseshoe crabs) and Crustacea of Russia and adjacent countries, published a number of detailed articles, and made many brilliant presentations at conferences. He participated in expeditions to the Near-Polar Urals and the Donbass and himself organized field work near Krasnoyarsk and in Khakassia.

Eugeny worked as a teacher at the Central Station of Young Naturalists and Environmentalists and as a school teacher of biology. In 2011 he became employed by the Timiryazev State Biological Museum, where since 2012 he was a research associate in the collection department. He became the curator of the fossil collection and managed to complete the difficult task of cataloging it. Eugeny took part in preparation of all the fossil exhibitions at the museum in recent years and co-authored the guide to fossils of the Moscow metro stations. He designed and led classes and excursions, which were loved by both adults and children.

Eugeny was interested in broader questions of biology and took close to heart imperfections of human society. He loved hiking, tourist songs, poetry, participated in the Karpoffest festival, and himself wrote verse. Zhenya was a warm person. He left numerous friends at the institute, the museum, everywhere. Zhenya is alive in our memory, and as long as we are he is with us...

Yuri A. Popov



On November 16, 2016, our friend and colleague Yuri Alexandrovich Popov, a major expert on the systematics and evolution of modern and fossil hemipteran insects, who worked for more than half a century at the Paleontological Institute, passed away.

Yu.A. Popov was born on March 5, 1936, in Moscow. After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the Biology and Soil Faculty of Moscow State University, where he studied at the Department of Entomology (headed by Prof. E.S. Smirnov). In the summer of 1956, Yuri Alexandrovich along with other students took part in the famous Virgin Lands Campaign of those years in Southern Kazakhstan and was awarded the badge of the Komsomol Central Committee For the Development of New Lands. While still a student he took as his object of study the true bugs (Heteroptera) an order of insects numbering tens of thousands of species. In the expedition of the Main Botanical Garden of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1957 and 1958 he gathered large collections of modern true bugs of the Western Tien Shan, which were treated in his diploma thesis and first articles. He always gratefully recalled his comrades on those trips and the experience of working and living in harsh field conditions he had received with their help. During his visits to the Zoological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences, Yuri Alexandrovich received consultations of the patriarch of Russian hemipterology Prof. A.N. Kirichenko and became a friend of his pupil I.M. Kerzhner.

After graduating from Moscow State University in 1959, Yuri Alexandrovich joined the Laboratory of Arthropods at the Paleontological Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. There he worked for the rest of his life, most recently in the capacity of leading researcher. During 19711975, Yu.A. Popov also worked at the Division of General Biology of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences as a senior researcher tasked with foreign relations; there he gained experience in organizational work, which subsequently proved most useful.

Under the supervision of B. B. Rohdendorf and E.E. Becker-Migdisova, Yuri Alexandrovich began to study true bugs from the Jurassic of Karatau and other Mesozoic faunas and, in 1968, defended his Ph.D. thesis Historical development of the infraorder Nepomorpha (Heteroptera), published as a book in 1971. In 1969, Yu.A. Popov worked for six months at the Institute of Zoology in Warsaw, where he made friends with Polish colleagues and learned a lot from Prof. T.L. Jaczewski, a major expert on water bugs. Later, Yuri Alexandrovich studied fossil hemipterans in museums of Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany, Denmark, and Great Britain and participated in several international congresses on modern and extinct insects, establishing contacts with colleagues from various countries. Since then his friendships around the globe led to numerous collaborative projects and dozens of joint publications. Particularly successful and fruitful was his interaction with Polish colleagues, for whom he was always a welcome guest. It was typical of Yuri Alexandrovich to promptly establish contacts and readily assist his colleagues. From foreign trips he brought a lot of scientific literature to replenish libraries of the laboratory and the institute with rare publications.

Yuri Alexandrovich became one of the founders of the higher classification of true bugs. In 1968 and 1971, he established three of the seven universally recognized infraorders of this order (Nepomorpha, Gerromorpha, and Leptopodomorpha). He has greatly contributed to the development of the systematics and phylogeny of nepomorphans and leptopodomorphans. The work by Yu.A. Popov has shed light on the origin and evolution of Coleorrhynchaa relict group related to the true bugs, which has survived until now only on the southern continents. In particular, he was the first to demonstrate the wide distribution and important role of the Coleorrhyncha during the Mesozoic.

Yu.A. Popov took part in numerous expeditions to Central Asia and Kazakhstan, Siberia, and Mongolia, and in 19761981 he was head of the Joint Soviet-Mongolian paleontological expedition. During expeditions Yu.A. Popov always took on the most difficult and unpleasant work. He was getting along with everyonescientific personnel, drivers, bosses, and local residents. With his humor and easy attitude to various problems he was able to maintain a cheerful and benevolent atmosphere in harsh field conditions.

Throughout his life Yuri Alexandrovich studied fossil Heteroptera, primarily water and semiaquatic bugs; in recent decades he mostly focused on the bugs in Cenozoic and Cretaceous amber, especially assassin bugs, lace bugs, and leaf bugs. He has discovered and described the oldest representatives of flat bugs, lace bugs, burrowing bugs, and some other families. Yu.A. Popov was the curator of the collection of modern bugs at the Zoological Museum of Moscow State University and made many efforts to replenish it. The wide erudition of Yuri Alexandrovich, encompassing the modern world fauna and the entire diversity of fossil Heteroptera, made him a universally recognized authority on the extinct hemipterans. Many experts on this group in Russia and abroad consider Yuri Alexandrovich as their teacher and mentor.

Yuri Alexandrovich is the author of more than 170 publications, including several monographs. He has created about 30 new families and subfamilies and described 300 new genera and species of Hemiptera. Several dozen species and genera and one family of fossil insects have been named in his honor by colleagues.

From his youth versatile talents and a happy character of Yuri Alexandrovich made him the center of gravity in any, not just a scientific, company. He loved classical music and played piano and block flute. Yu.A. Popov always looked on the bright side of life and infected others with that attitude. Kind, cheerful, sociable, always ready to help, loved by everyone that is how we will remember him.

Vadim G. Gratshev



It is heartbreaking to say that Vadim is no longer with us. He passed away untimely at the peak of his scientific career, just before finishing his PhD Thesis and in the middle of numerous projects. His studies of beetles started many years ago, when he was still a student. Vadim graduated from the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute in 1987 and taught biology at a high school for three years until 1989. Then he decided to pursue academic science and joined the Laboratory of Arthropods at the Paleontological Institute at 1991, first as a Kuperwood Fellow of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and since 1994 as a full-time researcher. Weevils and dryopoids were always his main passion, although his area of interests extended far beyond that. He produced over 20 scientific papers, including an outstanding comparative study of the hind wing venation of the superfamily Curculionoidea published in co-authorship with his late supervisor Vladimir V. Zherikhin, who he always adored.

Being a keen field researcher, he participated in numerous expeditions to the Maritime Province and Sakhalin Island, Kuznetskii Alatau, Novosibirsk Region, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tadjikistan, Turkmenia, and Ukraine. After the Third Palaeoentomological Congress that was held in South Africa in 2005 he was extremely excited to go collecting in the Drakensberg and Zululand. The material he collected on this trip together with specimens from other museums, inspired him to commence a new project on Afrotropical Elmidae and Anthribidae, which regrettably has been left largely unfinished.

Vadim was an optimistic, cheerful multi-talented individual with subtle sense of humour, and his interests were not restricted to extinct and extant beetles. He was an expert in noble orchids, aquarium design and raising geckos, and published several papers on those topics. He was a skilful wood-carver, and his knowledge of Japanese history and literature was not amateur. His opinion on different matters was highly valued by his friends and colleagues.

Vadim was survived by his wife Tatiana and his daughter Ksyusha. Vadim was always a man of "On" and "Giri", and we shall remember him as a man of noble spirit.

Victor G. Novokshonov



Only a year has passed since the great loss in palaeoentomology, the untimely death of Vladimir Zherikhin, a person of diverse and profound influence in the field and beyond. And another disaster comes now, another great loss, still more unexpected one. Young (under 37), talented, versatile, hardworking scientist of wide knowledge and long (for his age) list of publications, and a nice person, one of the most promising contemporaneous palaeoentomologists, Viktor Novokshonov has left us at a steep ascent of his scientific activity, when his life just start improving after heavy storms threatened both his private and university existence. These storms were the real cause of his untimely departure, with the immediate cause being aneurysm on the background of high blood pressure. In Perm he has left his parents and sister, his daughter Katya (Ekaterina, 12) and son Nikita (8), and his closest friend Larisa Zuzhgova, who was his main support during the last year of his life.

Viktor has been graduated from the Geological Faculty of the Perm State University in 1990 and taught there in 1990-1991. Since December 1991 through December 1993, he was the postgraduate student at the Palaeontological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, in Moscow, Russia. During those two years he completed the three-year-long course of the postgraduate education and defended the PhD thesis - a very rare case, at least in the Russian postgraduate system. Since 1994, Viktor taught historical geology and general biology at the Perm University until he was forced to leave it in 2002 and found an asylum at the Perm Regional Museum, unfortunately for only short time.

Since his undergraduate time, Viktor's main scientific interest was focused on insects in the famous Lower Permian (Kungurian) fossil site of Tshekarda (Chekarda), which is not far from the Perm City. While at the Palaeontological Institute RAS in Moscow, he started specialising in the scorpionfly order (Panorpida or Mecoptera) and prepared his Thesis "Early evolution of the scorpionflies", later extended into a book with the same title that was published in 1997. In that book he considered mainly Permian scorpionflies, but also roots of the extant families as well as the scorpionfly connections to the related orders, and particularly the origin and early evolution of the caddisfly order. All these topics have left favourites of his further researches resulted in many publications in Russian and other languages including respective chapters of the History of Insects.

At the same time, Viktor went on with his earlier passions, viz., collecting, inventory, and description of the Tshekarda insects, equally resulted in numerous publications including a review and annotated list of all insect taxa described from that locality (Novokshonov, 1998).

In addition to his research and general teaching practice at the Perm University, Viktor has devoted much of his efforts to raising further palaeoentomologists in his alma mater. Unfortunately, due to local resistance, this aspect of his activity was found not too much efficient at the Perm University itself. Nevertheless, one of his student, Daniil Aristov, is currently a promising postgraduate student at the Palaeontological Institute in Moscow.

Yet Viktor Novokshonov left us so early and unexpectedly, he is still alive, not only as a person in the memory of his friends, colleagues and students, but also as his living and developing ideas in their thoughts, discussions and research.


Vladimir V. Zherikhin



Vladimir Zherikhin, a distinguished entomologist, palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist, has died suddenly and absolutely unexpectedly on 21 December, 2001 (because of the overlooked intestine cancer hidden by ulcer).

Vladimir, or Volodya as we called him, was born in Moscow, Russia, 22 July, 1945. His father Vasiliy Zherikhin was born in 1895 in Velikiy Ustyug, North Russia. He participated in the World War I, was wounded in the head resulted in the life-long right-side paralysis. Nevertheless, he was able to restore his speech and walk abilities. For many years he taught mathematics at the Land Exploitation Institute in Moscow. His mother Aleksandra, born in 1897 in the Kamenka village not far from Moscow, was mainly a house wife.

Since his schoolboy years, Volodya has keen interest to insects and particularly to beetles which has led him to the Zoological Museum, Moscow State University. N.N. Plavilshchikov, the famous Russian coleopterist and author of popular books on the nature, and S.I. Keleynikova, tenebrionid beetle specialist, were his first teachers there. Here in the Museum, he met D.V. Panfilov, entomologist, biogeographist and biocenologist, whose influence on and deep respect from Zherikhin were deep and life-long. The atmosphere of ardent devotion to science that governed at the Young Biologist Circle of the Moscow Zoo has also deeply influenced him and provided many life-long friends.

Still before entering the Moscow State University, Zherikhin took part in field works of the medical entomologist group headed by S.P Rasnitsyn, one more his primary teacher and friend, on various Siberian rivers. Co-operation with the entomologists of the Palaeontological Institute in Moscow caused his interest to the insect fossils, and also made him acquainted with the prominent plant sociologist S.M. Razumovsky who made Zherikhin a devoted proponent of his concept of the succession system as the central biocenotic structure.

Palaeoentomological researches by Zherikhin have started with his University fourth-year study of the Baltic amber weevils supervised by B.B. Rohdendorf, that time the head of the Arthropoda Laboratory, Palaeontological Institute, Academy of Sciences of the USSR (now Russian Academy of Sciences). After graduated from the Chair of Entomology, Moscow State University, in 1967, Zherikhin entered the above laboratory where he worked all the rest his life and covered the path from the probationer till the Head of Lab. From the very beginning he was actively participating in various multi-authored projects. One of them, addressed to the Palaeogene biogeography, made him consider and closely acquainted to all major insect groups. Later this resulted in that he easily oriented himself in all diversity of the Meso- and Cenozoic insects, and even made an appreciable taxonomic input in a variety of orders. Yet he has not left his beloved weevils: besides lower-scale descriptive and revisional publications on the extant and extinct Rhynchophora, he has published, jointly with the colleagues, new system of the whole group and comparative study of their wing morphology.

Zherikhin was one of the leading authors of the multi-authored monograph Historical development of the class Insecta (Rohdendorf & Rasnitsyn, 1980) and its new and much expanded English version History of Insects, near to be out now. Zherikhins are chapters on the patterns of insect burial (taphonomy), past terrestrial ecology, trace fossils, as well as on trips and praying mantids.

Since 1970 Zherikhin organized field trips to collect fossil insects, and particularly those buried in the Cretaceous and Palaeogene fossil resins, to the northmost Siberia (Taimyr Peninsula), Russian Far East, and Caucasus. These were aimed to reveal changes in the insect world around the Meso-Cenozoic boundary. The materials gathered made him possible to demonstrate the most deep and sharp changes in composition of the fossil assemblages in the mid-Cretaceous time (like in plant fossil assemblages) rather than at the Meso-Cenozoic boundary, as is typical for marine animals.

The above concept of the mid-Cretaceous biocenotic crisis, coupled with further advanced seminal ideas by Razumovsky, Zherikhin used as the base for his concept of the community-level evolutionary. He has developed a palaeontological method of restoration of the past successions, proposed a model of the biocenotic control of evolution, introduced a notion of the extinct ecosystem types (illustrated with some types of the Mesozoic lakes) and traced history of several important types of contemporary biomes (including steppe, savanna, and rain tropical forest). This series of researches titled Main patterns of the phylocenogenetic processes (exampled by non-marine communities of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic) has given him a degree of DSc in Biology from the Palaeontological Institute RAS.

Zherikhin took part in many meetings, both Russian and international, and actively co-operated with colleagues all over the world. He participated at the Coordinating Committee of the international project European Science Foundation Network on Fossil Insects (1997-1999), initiated the database on the fossil insects, myriapods and arachnids, organized the first abroad insect exhibition (in Australia).

Exceptionally wide range of interests, thirst for new knowledge and phenomenal memory made Zherikhin a real living encyclopedia permanently addressed to by his friends and colleagues. His knowledge and interests embraced a wide variety of sciences as well as fiction and poetry. Besides scientific works, he published papers in popular science and literary magazines. He liked to teach and did it well while reading courses on ecology both in a university and in a high school.

Still more he liked working in field. He joined or headed many expedition groups to corners of Siberia (from Taimyr to Dahuria, Sakhalin and Kuril Islands), Soviet Central Asia, Mongolia and Caucasus. The only thing that could sometimes distract him from collecting fossils was collecting living insects where he was not the less successful: his neontologist colleagues and museum keepers were always anxious to reach to his rich harvest.

With his inexhaustible optimism, Zherikhin supported good spirit in other people. He enjoyed each new find, each bright idea, and spared lots of his time in communication to friends and colleagues and discussing their results, It was always of much interest to follow his considerations, irrespective of their subject: either beetles, or ecological crises, or society re-organization. He was always able to respect opinion of his opponent. It was his point of view that discussions and diversity of opinions are necessary for development - not only in science.

His untimely death has left us with large and painful lacuna in integrity of our knowledge, communication, plans and hopes. Long time needs to tighten somehow this hole, to heal this wound. Fortunately, he has left a few his students, and there are also his colleagues able to develop his ideas and approaches. Many files are left as well in his computer that contain results of his researches, either near-ready for publication, or half-ready, or some outlined enough to be able to continue. So Zherikhin will be alive not only in our memory but also in continuation of his own research activity.