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noun, plural: metamorphoses

(1) (biology) A change in the form and often habits of an animal after the embryonic stage during normal development.

(2) (pathology) A usually degenerative change in the structure of a particular body tissue.


Metamorphosis is a biological process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal's form or structure through cell growth and differentiation. Some insects, amphibians, molluscs, crustaceans, cnidarians, echinoderms and tunicates undergo metamorphosis, which is usually (but not always) accompanied by a change of habitat or behaviour.

Metamorphosis may be incomplete metamorphosis or complete metamorphosis.

Word origin: Latin metamorphōsis, from Greek, metamorphoun, to transform : meta-, meta- + morphē, form.

Related forms: metamorphose (verb).

Compare: ametabolism.