Morphotype
1. In biology, a shared shape and general appearance, regardless or the presence or absence of any common origin or relationship. The term may be applied to cells or organelles, or to parts of organisms such as scales or leaves, to whole organisms, or even to multi-species colonies of symbiotic organisms. Morphotype is a convenient concept when the relationships between similar entities is unclear, as may be the case in paleontology, or when it is the morphological similarities themselves that are of primary interest, as in comparative xenobiology. Xenobiologists, for instance, may speak of the 'prokaryotic morphotype' or the 'tree morphotype' or the 'fish morphotype' or 'worm morphotype' in describing life forms on a variety of unrelated life-bearing worlds.

2. With regard to the study of clades, any given physical form or appearance. A human nearbaseline, a human tweak, and a human superior, might all exhibit the same morphotype, even if they are mutually infertile, have separate derivations from basic human stock, and have very different abilities and psychologies. Likewise two vecs, or even two clades of vecs, might share a morphotype but have very different origins and behaviour. The term "morphotype" is sometimes used in describing a-life, in reference to common characteristics of computronium use and software representation in AIs and other infomorphs. Most, however, restrict the term's use to description of hylotech or biological life forms.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Stephen Inniss

Initially published on 19 December 2005.