Mamutjitji Story app illustration featuring red-brown anthill in the foreground and purple sky.

Explore a Dreamtime story about the origin of antlions, called Mamutjitji in Ngalia

Credit: Dilji/Kiwa/Ngalia

Mamutjitji Story is a new free app that links science with local knowledges belonging to the Ngalia Western Desert Aboriginal People. The story features an unusual insect called an antlion in English and Mamutjitji in Ngalia.

Have you ever seen an antlion? As the English word suggests, these fierce little insects are predators that eat other insects. They sport impressive jaws and have a clever way of digging pits to trap their prey. The Ngalia word, Mamutjitji, comes from Mamu, the name for large hairy creatures in the Dreamtime. The app uses animation, narration and song to tell the story of how Mamu transformed into an insect.

From a scientific perspective, transformation is a part of nearly every insect’s life cycle. This process, called metamorphosis, can take insects through many different forms, from eggs and larva, through cocoon stages and into adulthood. Mamutjitji are actually larva, and when they metamorphose, they become lacewing flies! The app explores the entire life cycle of Mamutjitji from egg to adult, and everything in between.

Led by Ngalia Cultural Custodians Kado Muir and Talbot Muir, Mamutjitji Story is the first-ever app in Ngalia language. Supported by CSIRO’s Indigenous STEM Education project, the app comes with a 7-page teaching resource helping educators connect Aboriginal knowledge with the science curriculum. Anyone can download the app for free from the Apple and Android app stores.

Antlion or Mamutjitji with fat hairy body and pincers.

The Mamutjitji is a fierce predator that metamorphosises into a dragonfly-like adult. Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Jonathan Numer CC BY-SA 3.0

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