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The Characteristics of Living Things

The Characteristics of Living Things

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Published by: Miy El Nino on Aug 22, 2011
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The Characteristics of Living Things

Biology as the study of living things is a vast and fascinating field. To get a starting point in the study of biology, it is perhaps worthwhile to try to define what you mean by "life". Audesirk and Audesirk give a list of basic characteristics of living things. Karp approaches the same ideas in terms of the properties of living cells.

Living and Non-living Things Living Things We are surrounded by living and non-living things. All animals and plants are living things and biology is the study of these living things. A cat playing with a ball is obviously living. A pigeon flying from tree to tree is also a living thing. Sometimes it is not so easy to decide. Plants are living things but they do not play with balls or fly. If something is living it will carry out all of the seven activities shown opposite. Some non-living things show one or two of the seven characteristics of living things. Machines, such as washing machines, can move. The car needs to be fed with petrol in order to move. Crystals, such as ice crystals forming on a window, grow bigger if the conditions are right. For something to be living it has to show all of the seven characteristics of living things.

Coal is a good example.Non-living things Sand. Animals take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Paper is non-living but it is also made from trees. First. All living organisms have internal movement. It was formed when trees died and sank into the soft ground. Jam is also non-living but it was made from the fruit of a plant. wood and glass are all non-living things. The Seven Characteristics of Living Things Feeding All living organisms need to take substances from their environment to obtain energy. This happened many millions of years ago when the Earth was covered with forests. Non-living things can be divided into two groups. which means that they have the ability of moving substances from one part of their body to another. to grow and to stay healthy. such as stone and gold. .they can move from place to place by walking. flying or swimming. Movement All living organisms show movement of one kind or another. The second group are those which were once part of living things. None of them shows any of the characteristics listed above. Some living organisms show external movement as well . come those which were never part of a living thing. Breathing or Respiration All living things exchange gases with their environment.

Reproduction All living things produce young. as do other living things. Some of this energy is used in growth. light. Many make seeds which can germinate and grow into new plants. If this waste was allowed to remain in the body it could be poisonous.Excretion Excretion is the removal of waste from the body. . heat. We also excrete waste when we breathe out. Growth When living things feed they gain energy. Sensitivity Living things react to changes around them. cats produce kittens and pigeons lay eggs. All living things need to remove waste from their bodies. Humans produce a liquid waste called urine. cold and sound. Living things become larger and more complicated as they grow. Plants also reproduce. Humans make babies. We react to touch.

or another kind of ecosystem. this includes the all the areas of our planet where living things are found. from the smallest part to the largest. 1. A population is an organization of more than one individual. accept or equally share electrons to make molecules. Identify the characteristics of living things. like the cardiovascular system. The smallest part of an organism is a cell. In the center of the element. You may live in a desert ecosystem. These have a common function like a muscle. that allow them to be self-sufficient. including plants and animals An ecosystem not only considers the living things in an area. Each element has a specific number of electrons that orbit the nucleus. next comes a community. This is generally all of one species in a particular area. Some single-celled organisms are free-living and contain structures. The number of neutrons may vary to make isotopes of that element. On the chemical level: atoms make up elements. An example of a community is the town or place we live. Tissues are organized into organs like the heart. The number of protons in an element is always equal to the number the electrons. called organelles. cells are organized into tissues. the nucleus has protons and neutrons. Organs are organized into organ systems. In our case. In the case of a human.Characteristics of Living Things Objective: 1. A more accurate biological description would include all the living things in that area. Organ systems functioning together make up a living organism. . Elements come together to give up. a forest ecosystem. We could talk about the population of squirrels in our area or dogs or cats. More complex organisms are multicellular. A community is composed of many species. Most complex of all is the biosphere. Enlarging our view. Living things are highly organized. but also the physical environment and the interrelated flow of energy.

we have 46 chromosomes. If a plant doesn't get enough sunlight. birds. Genes on chromosomes contain the instructions for the organism's structure and function. A paramecium has a contractile vacuole that pumps excess water out of its cell in order to survive in a fresh water environment. This halving is done by meiosis in the sex organs. the amazing diversity of organisms on earth have resulted because most organisms reproduce sexually. Their roots grow down to search for water and minerals. Animals and fungi are heterotrophs and capture their food in a variety of ways. In order to survive. 4. The ability to acquire and use energy is extremely important. The autotrophs we are most familiar with are the green plants that use photosynthesis to make their own "food. allowing them to photosynthesize better. to chemicals our cells can use through metabolism. and some have leaves able to turn to follow the sun. Without a constant input of usable energy. You and I have an internal "thermostat" that helps us maintain a body temperature of about 98. Each of these gametes contains only one chromosome from each of the pairs of chromosomes." Some bacteria use chemosynthesis for their energy source. in 23 pairs. All living things have an ability to acquire materials and energy. Without it. Eukaryotes. Most others have separate sexes. . Some. called a plasmid. However. organisms must be able to achieve homeostasis. even the smallest bacteria. organisms would quickly become "disorganized" and die. algae. All living things have an ability to respond to their environment. fish. All living things have an ability to reproduce. male and female. like marijuana plants. This often results in movement of the individual toward safety. have a species-specific number of chromosomes. 3. Mother Nature came up with a way to reduce the number of chromosomes. water or minerals it will die. As humans. This helps to ensure survival of the organism. a form of energy. All living things. cattle and humans. In order for two organisms to combine their genetic information without doubling the number of chromosomes given to offspring. each new generation would have double the number of its parents' chromosomes.2. and some microorganisms are autotrophs. Prokaryotes like bacteria only have one circular chromosome. have a chromosome containing DNA. the ovary produces haploid eggs and in the male the testes produces haploid sperm. like earthworms are hermaphrodites. They grow up toward the sun. In the female. Plants also have some limited ability to move. For example. multicellular organisms like plants and humans. Each type of organism has a specialized way to stay in balance with its outside and inside environments. Some organisms like plants.6 degrees Fahrenheit. as young children we learned to avoid hot stoves and busy streets. Most of us call this eating! Then we have to be able to convert our food.

This is what gives us the great diversity of life. Grow and develop 4. Obtain and use energy 5. Why is reproduction necessary? To replace the dead ones. Unicellular organism. Are comprised of one or more units called cells 2. Thus. it is important to note that individuals can only adapt to their environment.means without. All living things have an ability to adapt. although it contains characteristics from both. All living things: 1. · A single organism reproduces without the aid of another. a diploid individual. bacteria) Multicellular organisman organism made of more than one cell. they evolve.a collection of living matter enclosed by a barrier that protects it from its surroundings. the sperm and egg unite to form a zygote. This new individual is different from either parent. 5. Cell.g. their characteristics are passed into future generations and that makes the species stronger. they produce new individuals similar to themselves.a one-celled organism (e. Reproduce (sexually or asexually) 3. we call this genetic biodiversity.Common among bacteria and other microscopic organisms . turtle) 2) All living things reproduce «that is. and species don·t adapt. .During fertilization. Two Kinds of Reproduction: Asexual Reproduction: · The prefix a. However. In living things. Respond to their environment 1) All living things are comprised of cells. Modifications enable an organism to survive in its environment. starfish. so without sex. Natural selection allows individuals with better adaptations to survive better and reproduce more.

-stasis standing) an organism s ability to maintain the constant or stable conditions necessary for life.Splitting (bacterial cells) or budding (plants) Sexual Reproduction: two cells from different individuals unite to produce the first cell of a new organism.a process (such as tissue growth) that involves synthesizing. Bodily maintenance occurs throughout life (requires energy).(homeo.final breakdown (digestion) of complex substances into simpler ones. complex substances from simpler substances (sugars) (REQUIRES ENERGY) Catabolism. 4) All living things obtain and use energy Energy required for growth and maintenance Energy (usually sugars) obtained from the environment   Anabolism . Aging occurs when an organism loses its ability to maintain itself.total sum of all chemical reactions in the body. Homeostasis.. (RELEASES ENERGY) Metabolism.   . or the balance between anabolism and catabolism 5) All living things respond to their environment Stimulus (plural stimuli).the ability to react Can plants respond to stimuli? Yes. * Some organisms are capable of sexual and asexual reproduction. 3) All living things grow and develop Life does not necessarily mean continuous growth During growth organisms undergo a cycle of changes called development.similar. or putting together. but normally not as quickly as animals.anything that causes an organism to react Irritability. Union of a sperm cell                   from male united with egg cell from female.

6 F or 37 C. 2) Living things are organized into units called cells. 1) Living things are highly ordered. 98. your body maintains a constant temperature. at which it functions optimally. 3) Living things use energy from their environment 4) Living organisms respond to stimuli 5) Living things develop. 6) Living things reproduce themselves 7) Living things contain genetic information .Just as the thermostat automatically cools or warms a room if it deviates from a desired temperature.

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