Ulf Scheller (1925 - 2019)

By Göran Andersson

Ulf Scheller - an outstanding world specialist of Pauropoda and Symphyla - died June 25 2021 at an age of 95 years. After many years of contribution to myriapodology he became a Honorary member of CIM in 2002.

Ulf studied zoology and botany at the University of Lund. After graduating with a master´s degree he became a teacher, first in Karlskrona and from 1956 at the private boarding-school Lundsberg in Värmland. Here he stayed until he retired in 1990. Besides this full time work as a teacher he succeeded to do a lot of scientific work which resulted in more than a hundred published papers dealing with Pauropods and Symphyls. He also got a doctors degree in 1970 based on his work The Pauropoda of Ceylon.

On holidays and when he could take leave of absence from the school, he travelled a lot and visited several European countries, Africa and America to collect "his animals".

He also visited many museums to study their collections. Especially he cooperated with the Natural History Museum in Genève which he visited several times.

After retirement he moved to a house at the countryside in Western Sweden not far from the town Lidköping. Then he had more time for scientific work but also a house and a garden to take care of.

From the beginning he studied both Symphyls and Pauropods, but soon he found that there was more than enough to do with the Pauropods and concentrated his work on this group. For many years he was the only world specialist of Pauropoda and got material from all over the world to study.This resulted in a lot of publications and descriptions of several hundered new species.

A great deal of the material he studied was sent back to a museum in the country where the animals were collected. A lot of material is also kept at the museum in Genève. All material he had in his own collection at home is now housed at the Gothenburg Natural History Museum. This material includes a lot of types, both holotypes and paratypes.

It is a remarkable life work done by a private researcher in a small room in his own house, without the facilities of a museum or a scientific institution for help. No laboratory assistant, no secretary, no help with copying, illustration or other technical service. Having no laboratory resources it was not surprising that he never took the step into the molecular biology for the study of his animals. Nor did he have resources to work with SEM pictures. He had instead developed a very effective method to study the specimens and make exact measurements and very precise drawings of the systematic characters needed for describing species. The animals were not mounted but placed in alcohol on a glass slide under a moveable cover glass so it could be turned around and studied from all sides. This time-consuming work resulted in publications with very good descriptions and redescriptions of species.

The myriapod community has lost a valuable member. Very few of the about 175 registered CIM members work with Pauropoda or Symphyla. It will be difficult to fill the empty space after Ulf Scheller.

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