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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Shapeshifting is a common theme in mythology and folklore, as well as in science fiction and fantasy. In its broadest sense, it is a change in the physical form or shape of a person or animal. Other terms include metamorphosis, morphing, transformation, or transmogrification.

There is no settled agreement on the terminology. Still, the most common usages are:

  • shapeshifting indicates changes that are temporary
  • metamorphosis indicates changes that are lasting
  • transformation indicates changes that are externally imposed

Shapeshifting is distinguished from natural processes such as aging or metamorphosis (despite shared use of the term), the body contortions of animals such as the Mimic Octopus, and illusory changes. Instead, shapeshifting involves physical changes such as alterations of age, gender, race, or general appearance or changes between human form and that of an animal, plant, or inanimate object.

See also

See also

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