The discovery of the newest type of insect by a University of Prishtina professor draws attention to the importance of environmental protection

02 Mars 2023

Potamophylax humoinsapiens is the name of the newest type of insect, discovered in the Sharri mountains in Kosovo by Halil Ibrahimi, a Professor at the University of Prishtina. This aquatic insect, which is found only in Kosovo, is very sensitive to environmental pollution and plays a key role in maintaining the clean state of the waters. For this fact, the insect got named ‘Humoinsapiens’ which comes from the Latin words ‘humo’, and in Albanian means ‘to bury’, and ‘insapiens’ which means ‘unwise’ and according to its discoverer himself, Professor Ibrahimi, it refers symbolically to the aggravated state of the environment. The name of the species sounds like Homo insapiens (unwise man), which “contradicts” the current scientific name of man Homo sapiens (wise man). According to Professor Ibrahimi, mankind, with our actions against the environment, have destroyed it, leading to the extinction of many living organisms. As a result, Professor Ibrahimi finds it necessary to, through this discovery, address this crucial issue for the environment.

The journey to this discovery for Professor Ibrahimi and his collaborators from the Department of Biology at the University of Prishtina, took more than a decade. The professor shared the groundbreaking details with attendees during a lecture held at the rectorate of the University of Prishtina. He also spoke about the method of discovering this insect, which was carried out by combining classical taxonomy based on morphology with modern methods of molecular biology. “Such research is important to understand the functioning processes of river ecosystems and those related to them, as well as the processes of biodiversity and endemism”, he stated.

Ibrahimi has described the presence of several other types of insects from Kosovo in recent years, highlighting Kosovo’s role as a  biodiversity center for this group of insects. "The last insect discovered was named Potamophylax coronavirus, to draw a parallel between the coronavirus pandemic and another pandemic that was developing more quietly, that people with their actions have caused towards insects in rivers through pollution," announced the professor. 

The rector of the University of Prishtina, prof. dr. Qerim Qerimi spoke about the work of Professor Ibrahimi and highlighted the importance of this discovery. The rector emphasized that such discoveries make the University of Prishtina even more attractive for preparing and empowering young scientists. “Students in this field have many reasons to be proud of their professor’s results. We want to encourage innovation and discovery among our students and staff. We want them to pursue their passions and interests, explore new horizons, [and] to challenge themselves. We want them to be inspired by examples like Professor Halil Ibrahimi, whose breakthrough discovery about insects has significant scientific relevance and serious implications for environmental protection”, emphasized rector Qerimi, before presenting the UP's gratitude and appreciation certificate to the professor.

In recent years, Professor Halil Ibrahimi has described new types of insects, not only in Kosovo but also from other countries in the Balkans, North Africa, and the Middle East. In Kosovo, the number of discovered insects has increased from 20 to around 200 thanks to the work of Professor Halil Ibrahimi and his team.

The scientific work of Professor Halil Ibrahimi and his team from the University of Prishtina has been published in the scientific journal Biodiversity Data Journal.