biological transformation in the life cycle of an organism. going from an immature to an adult stage.

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
metamorphosis (noun)
a) change of physical form, structure, or substance especially by supernatural means
b) a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances
a typically marked and more or less abrupt developmental change in the form or structure of an animal (as a butterfly or a frog) occurring subsequent to birth or hatching
metamorphosis (Wikipedia)
A dragonfly in its final moult, undergoing metamorphosis from its nymph form to an adult

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 body structure through cell growth and differentiation. Some insects, fishes, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, cnidarians, echinoderms, and tunicates undergo metamorphosis, which is often accompanied by a change of nutrition source or behavior. Animals can be divided into species that undergo complete metamorphosis ("holometaboly"), incomplete metamorphosis ("hemimetaboly"), or no metamorphosis ("ametaboly").

Scientific usage of the term is technically precise, and it is not applied to general aspects of cell growth, including rapid growth spurts. References to "metamorphosis" in mammals are imprecise and only colloquial, but historically idealist ideas of transformation and monadology, as in Goethe's Metamorphosis of Plants, have influenced the development of ideas of evolution.

« Back to Glossary Index