The existence of two distinct types of individual within a species, usually differing in one or more characteristics such as coloration, size, and shape. The most familiar type of dimorphism is sexual dimorphism, as in many birds (where the male is often more brightly colored than the female), spiders (where the male is often smaller than the female), horned and tusked mammals (where horns and tusks are often present in the male but not the female), and in some species of deep-sea anglerfish (where the male is reduced to a tiny parasitic form attached for life to the much larger female). Fungi also display dimorphism. For example, the same species may exist as a small, budding yeast under some conditions, but as a mass of long hyphae under others.
The occurrence, among plants, of two different forms of the same basic structure, either on the same plant or among individuals of the same species. The common ivy Hedera helix produces juvenile leaves with prominent lobes under conditions of low light, but adult leaves of more rounded shape under conditions of greater light.
The characteristic of a chemical compound to crystallize in two different forms. Potassium feldspar, for example, can crystallize as either orthoclase (at higher temperatures) or microcline (at lower temperatures).