CAIRO – A taxonomy professor said on Thursday that he named his newly-discovered ant from the Arabian Peninsula after the Liverpool and Egypt talisman Mo Salah as a way to honor the international soccer star.
Mostafa Sharaf of Egypt, a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, has officially registered the new species as Meranoplus mosalahi and said that both the ant and the man have many qualities in common, as both are small, hairy and strong.
“I am not that interested in soccer. But in the wake of Mo Salah’s fame, I decided to name it after him,” said Sharaf, an expert in Middle Eastern and North African ants.
The taxonomist, who has discovered over 30 new species of ants in Egypt, Yemen, Oman and Saudi Arabia, went on to explain that naming this species after the former Chelsea player was a way to highlight Salah’s career and was not meant as an insult.
Most of the ants Sharaf has discovered have been named after famous Islamic figures as a way to honor them.
Sharaf underscored that he gave Salah’s name to the ant as a way to praise the accomplishments of his compatriot on the soccer pitch and for being the first Arab player to make the short list of the Ballon d’Or, the award for the best soccer player of the year.
Sharaf explained that Meranoplus mosalahi, discovered in the southern Omani governorate of Dhofar in late January, is rare and prominent among the ants that inhabit the Arabian Peninsula.
The worker ants of Meranoplus mosalahi are covered in hairs and have a dark brown head and abdomen, while the rest of its body and limbs is yellow.
The newly-discovered ant’s length is between four and five millimeters and it is known for its strength, but also for being slow, in contrast to the great speed that gave the Egyptian player fame on the soccer pitch.
After joining Liverpool on a permanent transfer from Roma in 2017, Salah experienced an explosive season, breaking many records, including scoring 32 Premier League goals.
He led his English team to the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid, but he was unable to compete for much of the match as he was roughly fouled by the Spanish team’s central defender, Sergio Ramos, and forced off the field.
The 26-year-old Salah also led the Egyptian national team to the group stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, their first appearance since 1990.