Title: MEanderthal
Platform: iThing and Android devices (a device with built in camera is needed)
Cost: Free!

Last May, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History got into the app market with this little number: MEanderthal as a supplement to their exhibit on what it means to be human. This January, I spent a long bus ride with high schoolers finding out the real joys of this resource.

Like the early humans, MEanderthal is simple and effective. The app morphs a facial image into one of an early human. There are four choices (two males, two females) of early human. A user can either take a new photo or use an already existing one. Once a photo is taken, you are able to scale the image to best fit the morphing program. Then you choose your species of human and watch yourself regress. ‘ 

Like the Tate Gallery’s Muybridgizer, the Smithsonian’s MEanderthal app is both entertaining and educational.’ Information about early human physical characteristics are given as are options to learn more on human origins, but the heart of the app is in the transformation.’ Morphed photos get saved into to camera roll, and include a description at the bottom of the type of early human you became.

While you can share these images via email and facebook, the real strength of this app is its immediacy. You can watch the change happen in front of your eyes.

This app becomes a great leveler–because no one comes out looking too great, and we all look very similar when we look back that far. Just look at this video for more proof. It’s also a great way to get people talking, and a great way to pass time. I’m glad I have this handy for those emergency moments when there’s a lull in life’s liveliness. ‘ MEanderthal could also be a great app to feature sharing evolution resources with teens, especially since QR codes already exist.

About Kate Covintree

Currently working as an Upper School librarian at an independent school in Rhode Island.

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