Morphology (biology)

Morphology is a branch of biology dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features.

This includes aspects of the outward appearance (shape, structure, colour, pattern, size), i.e. external morphology (or eidonomy), as well as the form and structure of the internal parts like bones and organs, i.e. internal morphology (or anatomy). This is in contrast to physiology, which deals primarily with function. Morphology is a branch of life science dealing with the study of gross structure of an organism or taxon and its component parts.

The word "morphology" is from the Ancient Greek μορφή, morphé, meaning "form", and λόγος, lógos, meaning "word, study, research".

While the concept of form in biology, opposed to function, dates back to Aristotle (see Aristotle's biology), the field of morphology was developed by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1790) and independently by the German anatomist and physiologist Karl Friedrich Burdach (1800).

Among other important theorists of morphology are Lorenz Oken, Georges Cuvier, Étienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Richard Owen, Karl Gegenbaur and Ernst Haeckel.

In 1830, Cuvier and E.G.Saint-Hilaire engaged in a famous debate, which is said to exemplify the two major deviations in biological thinking at the time – whether animal structure was due to function or evolution.

This page was last edited on 13 May 2018, at 13:07.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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