Morphology (biology)

study of external forms and structures of organisms
For other uses, see Morphology (disambiguation).

Morphology is the study of animal or human form or body shape.[1][2] It is the branch of biology dealing with the study of the form of organisms and their specific structural features.

The concept of morphology was developed by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1790) and independently by the German anatomist and physiologist Karl Friedrich Burdach (1800).[3]

In general use, the word morphology refers to the form and structure of an organism as a whole, including all internal and external structures. This includes aspects of the outward appearance (shape, structure, colour, pattern) as well as the form and structure of the internal parts like bones and organs. Morphology is contrasted to physiology, which deals primarily with function.

Branches of morphology

  • Comparative morphology compares the structures of organisms.
  • Functional morphology is the study of the structure and function of bodily features.
  • Anatomy is the study of the form and structure of the features of an organism.

In English-speaking countries, the term "molecular morphology" is used to describe the structure of compound molecules, such as polymers.[4] and RNA. The term "gross morphology" is a general description of the form and structure of an organism.


  1. "Oxford Languages | The Home of Language Data". Retrieved 2022-04-16.
  2. "Morphology". Merriam Retrieved 2010-06-24.
  3. The word "morphology" is from the Greek μορφή, morphé = form and λόγος, lógos = word, study, research.
  4. "Polymer morphology". Archived from the original on 2010-08-16. Retrieved 2010-06-24.