Nice to meet you. I am a biologist and a freelance science writer and illustrator from Finland. I work from my small apartment in Jyväskylä, Finland, where I sit surrounded my a collection of rather eccentric and geeky hobbies – of which many overlap with the things I do for work, which is awesome. Once in a while I get to go somewhere and actually see some wonders with my own eyes. In the photo above, I’m harassing a sleepy sacred crocodile (Crocodylus suchus).
I like to draw dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, as well as obscure animals living today. You can see plenty of my work here illustrating the blog posts, but there’s much more in my DeviantArt gallery.
Another thing I love to do is to read books. A completely unreasonable portion of my tiny room is taken by bookshelves. The shelf space is divided between books that I learn from (from orchid care to extinct birds, Durrell to Dawkins) and books that make me feel better (easy-to-read fantasy, mostly about dragons. I like dragons).
Of course, one isn’t a real biologist without actual organisms in the house. In my case, it’s mostly tropical plants and African fish.
Among plants, I’m most fascinated by non-angiosperms, probably because I can imagine them being pretty similar already when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. So I keep delicate, tropical ferns, a couple of cycads, a spikemoss and a small ginkgo tree, and struggle to keep them alive through the dark Scandinavian winters. Somehow, other plants have also crept their way into my favour: Anthurium, Homalocladium and many kinds of orchids, among others. The plant collection is permanently getting out of hand.
With all the plants and four fish tanks, one of them fairly big, our kitchen looks suspiciously like a jungle. I’m especially interested in the fish faunas of tropical Africa, which contain a lot of wonderful oddballs, such as bichirs, the fish with lungs. And land-going eel catfish. And some very vocal squeaker catfish. *
The fish I like are not just pretty ornaments (and some would say they’re downright ugly), but long-lived animals with a personality and interesting ecology. I tend to dislike captive-bred colour morphs and keep fish that closely resemble their wild cousins.
Of course (and perhaps unfortunately) my interests are not limited to African fish. There are also some South American catfish, some applesnails, some freshwater shrimps and some small loaches. And, of course, a huge list of things I would like to keep but don’t have the space or money.
Along with living animals, I also have a small collection of dead ones, mostly found or received from people who know I like that kind of things. Nothing really special, though, since I’m not lucky enough to have friends in the zoo. A few mammal and bird skulls, which I mostly cleaned myself, though I’m not overly fond of the process. A lot of feathers and a pair of owl wings. A few trilobite and ammonite fossils, the nest of a harvest mouse, a pile of sand dollars. A dead lemming from last year’s great lemming migration. A whole mummified swan leg, which I got as a Christmas gift from my father. And a small snake in the freezer. I’m pretty sure my roommate’s friends think I’m weird enough to be possibly dangerous.
*I’m actually quite proud by my African fish. So proud, in fact, that I’ll add here a full list of species, though I’m fairly sure nobody will find as excited about it as I do. Here it is:
– Microsynodontis cf. batesii
– Mochokiella paynei
– Synodontis decora
– S. euptera
– S. nigrita
– S. nigriventris
– S. robbianus
– S. waterloti
– S. cf. waterloti
– Synodontis sp., from Nigeria.
– Gymnallabes typus
– Channallabes apus (?)
– Erpetoichthys calabaricus
– Polypterus senegalensis
– Phenacogrammus interruptus
– Ctenopoma acutirostre
And that’s about it. I do find it a bit weird to write this much about myself, but there it is now.