Morphology

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The term morphology in the context of biology refers to the study of the form and structure of organisms and the parts compromising them.

Anatomy is a very similar term to morphology. Etymologically and historically, morphology may have been more associated with outer form and structure and with fields such as taxonomy, while anatomy may have been more associated with inner form and structure and fields such as medicine. Today the terms are often used similarly.

Morphology has often referred specifically to large structures, but today it is also used in contexts such as "molecular morphology".

Morphological differences between different groups were once the primary focus of study in both human taxonomy and in taxonomy in general. Morphological characteristics could be easily and reliable measured unlike physiological, mental or genetic characteristics, which previously were much more difficult or impossible to measure.

Morphological characteristics used in early human race research included pigmentation, hair form, and skeletal form, among others. This reliance on morphology was nothing unique for human taxonomy, but applied to taxonomy in general at this time.

Human large morphological differences are primarily studied within the field of anthropology. Morphological research on race differences and practical application of such research continue in areas such as forensic anthropology. Similarly, morphology is also an important part of the study of fossils in paleontology, including the study of fossils of the ancestors of the modern human species.

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