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.
Divisions of morphology
Comparative morphology is analysis of the patterns of the locus of structures within the body plan of an organism, and forms the basis of taxonomical categorization.
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.
Molecular morphology is a rarely used term, usually referring to the superstructure of polymers such as fiber formation or to larger composite assemblies. The term is commonly not applied to the spatial structure of individual
Gross morphology refers to the collective structures of 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.
Morphology and classification
Most taxa differ morphologically from other taxa. Typically, closely related taxa differ much less than more distantly related ones, but there are exceptions to this.
Cryptic species are
species which look very similar, or perhaps even outwardly identical, but are reproductively isolated. Conversely, sometimes unrelated taxa acquire a similar appearance as a result of
convergent evolution or even
mimicry. In addition, there can be morphological differences within a species, such as in Apoica flavissima where queens are significantly smaller than workers. A further problem with relying on morphological data is that what may appear, morphologically speaking, to be two distinct species, may in fact be shown by
DNA analysis to be a single species. The significance of these differences can be examined through the use of
allometric engineering in which one or both species are manipulated to phenocopy the other species.
A step relevant to the evaluation of morphology between traits/features within species, includes an assessment of the terms:
homoplasy. Homology between features indicate that those features have been derived from a common ancestor. Alternatively, homoplasy between features describes those that can resemble each other, but derive independently via
3D cell morphology: classification
The invention and development of microscopy enable the observation of 3-D cell morphology with both high spatial and temporal resolution. The dynamic processes of this cell morphology which are controlled by a
complex system play an important role in varied important biological process, such as immune and invasive responses.
^Harvey., Pough, F. (2009). Vertebrate life. Janis, Christine M. (Christine Marie), 1950-, Heiser, John B. (8th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.
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