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, amphibians, molluscs, crustaceans, Cnidarians, echinoderms and tunicates undergo metamorphosis, which is usually accompanied by a change of habitat or behavior.
Scientific usage of the term is exclusive, and 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, influenced the development of ideas of evolution.
The word "metamorphosis" derives from Greek μεταμόρφωσις, "transformation, transforming", from μετα- (meta-), "change" + μορφή (morphe) "form".
All insects in the Pterygota undergo a marked change in form, or metamorphosis, from immature to adult. These insects either have hemimetabolous development, and undergo an incomplete or partial metamorphosis, or holometabolous development, which undergo a complete metamorphosis, including a pupal or resting stage between the larval and adult forms.
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