Morphology (biology)

biology: the structure and form 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 morphologyEdit

  • Comparative morphology is analysis of the patterns of structures within the body plan of an organism.
  • Functional morphology is the study of the relationship between the structure and function of morphological features.
  • Experimental morphology is the study of the effects of external factors upon the morphology of organisms under experimental conditions, such as the effect of genetic mutation.
  • Anatomy is the study of the form and structure of internal features of an organism.

In English-speaking countries, the term "molecular morphology" has been used for some time for describing the structure of compound molecules, such as polymers [4] and RNA. The term "gross morphology" refers to the collective structures or an organism as a whole as a general description of the form and structure of an organism, taking into account all of its structures without specifying an individual structure.


  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.