The Smithsonian Knows This App Won’t Go Extinct

Ever find yourself fiddling on your iPhone wishing there was a way to turn back time? Or staring in your “Mirror” app on your Android wondering if you look like your prehistoric relatives? Wonder no more.

Ever find yourself fiddling on your iPhone wishing there was a way to turn back time?  Or staring in your “Mirror” app on your Android wondering if you look like your prehistoric relatives?  Wonder no more.

This is a reminder that, courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, there is an app for that.  And that.

It’s the Smithsonian’s MEanderthal app, available free for the iPhone or Android.

And it may be the only app on the market to promise, “you might be surprised when you see your face transformed into the face of an early human.”

The app, first released in May of last year, has since become somewhat of a viral sensation with more than 8,000 reviews in iTunes, 18,000 views on YouTube and recognition as “App of the Week” by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) in February.

Just upload a portrait of your face and line up the image with markers for the eyes, nose and mouth; choose which human species you’d like to become (homo floresiensis, neanderthalenis or heidelbergensis male or female, to be exact); and, boom, the caveman version of you appears on your screen.

The first-ever mobile app from the more than 100-year old Smithsonian Institution grew out of the popularity of an exhibit at the Institution’s Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., that does the same facial transformation.

The app uses technology that “dissolves” the users’ modern-day human face into the chosen early human species.  The resulting image keeps the areas around the eyes and mouth the same, while morphing the rest of the face accordingly.

The Smithsonian also relied on paleo-artist John Gurche to build the heart of the app by creating the early human faces from the fossils of early humans.

“We think it’s really important for people to make emotional connections to our ancestors,” Briana Pobiner, a paleoanthropologist at the Smithsonian Human Origins Program told LiveScience when the app was released. “It’s an important way to break down that barrier between things we think are so different or so ‘other.'”

Now will the Smithsonian make an app for the Geico caveman to look like us, modern-day humans?