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Characteristics of Living Things

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Characteristics of Living Things. Defining a living thing is a difficult task. How would you define “living”? What is life? What do you need to survive? What does a plant need? What does a fish need?. A living thing possesses certain properties that help define what life is. 1. Cells.

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defining a living thing is a difficult task
Defining a living thing is a difficult task.
  • How would you define “living”?
  • What is life?
  • What do you need to survive?
  • What does a plant need?
  • What does a fish need?
1 cells
1. Cells

Amoeba - single celled organism

Snail - multi-celled organism

  • All living things are made up of one or more cells.
  • The cell is the smallest functioning unit of all living things.
  • A living thing can be composed of one cell or many cells.
  • Cells are usually too small to be seen with the naked eye.
  • Cells are organized into tissues - a group of cells that perform the same function.
  • Tissues form organs such as the stomach and kidney.
  • A number of organs compose an organ system such as the digestive system.
  • An organism is a complex structure of organ systems.

Human Heart

2 metabolism
2. Metabolism
  • All living things are capable of taking materials from the surroundings and using them for energy to survive.
  • Organisms acquire nutrition by absorption, photosynthesis or ingestion.
3 response to stimuli
3. Response to Stimuli
  • All living things are able to respond to stimuli in the environment.
  • Living things respond to light, heat, sound and contact with chemicals or other objects.
  • Organisms can detect stimuli with eyes, ears, taste buds etc.
4 growth
4. Growth
  • All organisms grow or mature over time.
  • During growth a living thing transforms material that is unlike itself into materials that are like it.
  • A human digests a meal of meat and vegetables and transforms the material into more of him/herself.
5 reproduction
5. Reproduction
  • All living things contain the universal genetic code and have the ability to produce copies of itself by a process called reproduction.
  • Bacteria grow quickly and split into two organisms by a process called asexual reproduction.
  • More complex organisms, like animals, engage in sexual reproduction which requires two parents that contribute genes to their offspring.
6 respiration
6. Respiration
  • All living things exchange gas with the environment.
  • Animals inhale oxygen gas and exhale carbon dioxide gas
  • Plants absorb carbon dioxide from the environment and release oxygen.
  • Organisms perform chemical reactions during respiration.
7 homeostasis
7. Homeostasis
  • All living things must maintain a stable internal condition no matter the environment.
  • Animals regulate body temperature by sweating or shivering.
  • Organisms perform chemical reactions and have physical properties that help to maintain homeostasis.
8 evolution
8. Evolution
  • Populations of organisms have the ability to adapt to their environment through the process called evolution.
  • During evolution changes occur in populations, and the organisms in the population become better able to metabolize, respond and reproduce.
  • Organisms develop abilities to cope with their environment that their ancestors did not.