(22.7.1945 - 21.12.2001)
Doctor of Science
The name of Vladimir Vasilyevich Zherikhin is well-known to Russian and foreign entomologists. He was one of the most prominent experts in fossil Coleoptera, and at the same time successfully studied recent curculionoid beetles. Being a paleontologist he carried out an in-depth analysis of the shift of faunal assemblages on the boundary of the Mesozoic and the Cenozoic and of fossil resins. V.V. Zherikhin contributed greatly to paleontological methodology developing theory of evolutionary biocenology and bases of taphonomy. V.V. Zherikhin published more than 100 scientific works including 15 monographs and hundreds of descriptions of new taxa. V.V. Zherikhin was member of the editorial board of the journal “Uspekhi sovremennoi biologii” (Advances of modern biology) and was awarded diplomas by the Moscow Society of researchers of nature [“ispytateley prirody”] in 1981 and 1985 for particularly important scientific works.
V.V. Zherikhin began studying systematics of weevils in his school years. At the Zoological Museum of Moscow University his first teachers were Svetlana Innokentyevna Keleinikova and Nikolay Nikolayevich Plavilshchikov. Very important for him was support of Oleg Leonidovich Kryzhanovsky who always gave his attention to V.V. Zherikhin during his visits to Moscow. His participation in the Circle of Zoo Young Biologists was extremely valuable for him. There he met A.P. Rasnitsyn, S.P. Rasnitsyn and G.M. Dlussky.
Dmitry Viktorovich Panfilov had a great influence on formation of V.V. Zherikhin as a scientist. Many-year contacts with him (before the university, during his student years at the university, and after he came to the Paleontological Institute) were of great importance in formation of V.V. Zherikhin’s interest in landscape biocenological aspects of entomology. V.V. Zherikhin acquired experience of field work in expeditions headed by Sergei Pavlovich Rasnitsyn (in the region of Krasnoyarsk Power Station in 1961, before he entered Moscow State University and then in Ilim in the basin of the Angara River during the study at the university). Owing to the joint study with Alexander Pavlovich Rasnitsyn and Alexander Georgievich Ponomarenko V.V. Zherikhin became interested in fossil insects. When V.V. Zherikhin was a student A.P. Rasnitsyn brought him together with S.M. Razumovsky who played an important role in the development of V.V. Zherikhin’s ecological approaches in paleontological studies.
V.V. Zherikhin graduated in 1967 from Moscow State University, Biology and Soil Faculty, Chair of Entomology. Immediately after graduation from the university he was enrolled on the staff of the Paleontological Institute where he went a way from a post graduate student to a head of a laboratory in 1996. V.V. Zherikhin defended his thesis for the degree of Kandidat of Sciences in 1980 based upon his monograph published in 1978 entitled “Development and shift of Mesozoic and Cenozoic faunal assemblages of Tracheata and Chelicerata. Degree of Dr. of Biological Sciences was conferred on him in 1997 for a series of publications and scientific report “The major patterns of phylogenetic processes (by the example of nonmarine communities of the Mesozoic and the Cenozoic)”.
V.V. Zherikhin, owing to his first supervisor, Prof. B.B. Rodendorff, Head of the Laboratory of Arthropods at the Paleontological Institute, had finally formed his scientific interests as a paleontologist. B.B. Rodendorff advised V.V. Zherikhin on his student’s term paper on weevils of Baltic ambers (official supervisor was O.A. Chernova).
The subject of that first paleontological work of V.V. Zherikhin later became the basis of his report at Moscow International Entomological Congress (1968), and later was published. B.B. Rodendorff and V.N. Shimansky supervised V.V. Zherikhin’s work on Kandidat’ Dissertation. B.B. Roddendorff invited V.V. Zherikhin to participate in the well-known monograph “Historical Development of the Class Insecta”
It is interesting that 20 years later V.V. Zherikhin returned to studying that subject and as a part of a large team of Russian entomologists prepared an English version of the book entitled “History of Insects” published by “Kluwer” publishers (Doderecht, The Netherlands). In all his scientific works V.V. Zherikhin tried to achieve maximum effect. At the time when V.V. Zherikhin came to the Paleontological Institute a study of zoogeography of the Paleogene of Asia was conducted under the supervision of K.K. Flerov. Being the only specialist in the Cenozoic V.V. Zherikhin participated and extended the geographic scope of the study up to the world’s scale.
Studying the boundary of the Cretaceous and the Paleogene V.V. Zherikhin discovered lack of material for the Cretaceous. In 1970 he organized an expedition to Taimyr Peninsula (where he was the head of the expedition for the first time) and found there insects in Cretaceous ambers. The remarkable results of the Taimyr expedition were presented in his report at the session dedicated to the memory of Kholodkovsky. It was V.V. Zherikhin who showed that the abrupt change of insect faunae occurred not at the end of the Cretaceous as in marine animals, but as in plants in the middle of the Cretaceous.
Consideration of this fact gave rise to an idea of scenarios of ecological crises, which led V.V. Zherihkin to an attempt to establish bases of the evolutionary theory on the level of communities and became the subject of his Doctor’s dissertation (=Scientific Degree of Doctor of Sciences). For studying paleogeography V.V. Zherikhin had to examine all insect groups. Results were published in a large paper “Zoogeographic relations of Paleogene insects” also published in proceedings of the session dedicated to the memory of Kholodkovsky.
The paleontological subject in which V.V. Zherikhin was interested during the last years of his life was taphonomy a study of patterns of deposition and conservation of remains of dead organisms (the founder of that science was scientist, writer and philosopher I.A. Efremov). V.V. Zherikhin wrote about taphonomy before. However later he prepared a large paper (5 signatures) for “History of Insects”. V.V. Zherikhin always combined his paleontological studies with taxonomic and faunal studies of resent insects, primarily äîëãîíîñèêîâ and beetle families closely related to them.
Among works on that topic noteworthy is the book co-authored with A.B. Egorov “Weevils of the Far East” and participation in compiling keys to the families Apionidae, Dryophtoridae, Curculionidae in “Key to insects of the Far East of Russia”. In the period of his work on the monograph “Mesozoic Coleoptera” V.V. Zherikhin had to extend the sphere of his interests in systematics and describe not only beetles from different families, but also insects from other orders. However in the 1990s V.V. Zherikhin returned to studying his favourite curculionoid beetles. The evidence for this is the very interesting paper on morphology with a review of venation of wings in all taxa of Curculionoidea (co-authored with V.G. Grachev).
V.V. Zherikhin valued not only his teachers, mentors and senior colleagues. He also highly valued cooperation with his wife and colleague Nina Dmitriyevna Sinchenkova. He pinned his hopes on his disciple Vadim Gennadyevich Grachev who also studied weevils.
V.V. Zherikhin was among our closest colleagues. Beginning from the time of study at the university he came to the Zoological Institute every year for examining collection, reading literature and meeting Margarita Ervandovna Ter-Minasian and Lev Vladimirovich Arnoldi. V.V. Zherikhin was proud of being their disciple. V.V. Zherikhin set collection of weevils of the subfamily Nanophyinae in our department and participated in examining Mongolian collections of Z. Kaszab and entomologists of the Zoological Institute. He cooperated efficiently with our coleopterists B.A. Korotyayev and A.G. Kirejtshuk with whom he had been bound by friendly relations for many years. The news about death of V.V. Zherikhin shortly after his visit St. Petersburg and our laboratory was a shock. It is hard to admit this fact. Everyone who knew V.V. Zherikhin will always keep memories of him in their hearts.
A.L. Lobanov, November 2000, December 2001.