Characteristics of Life – Biology Basics

Have you ever seen those toys that you can put in water for a couple of days and then grow in size? They always have this amazing thing on the package like, “Grows a million times larger in the water!”– ok I’m exaggerating– but they do expand remarkably bigger. I had one as a kid. It was a pony. I had desires for it to grow specifically large, so to give it lots of space, it spent several days in a bathtub. And also while it did technically grow larger, the dreams I had envisioned for it did not truly become. The fact that it can increase in dimension sort of provided me with some type of belief in my mind that it just might be active. Since points that are alive do grow, right? Incorporate that with my overactive creativity and also it was difficult for me to find back to the reality that this plaything pony may enhance in dimension but it’s not a life.

When we speak about organic growth as well as advancement, this sort of boost in size is not the very same point. And also if we’re going to absolutely explore biology, the study of life, it makes it important that we comprehend qualities of things that are alive. Life is challenging to specify, but the attributes of living points can be discovered. We wish to point out right here, prior to getting started, that what makes an organism “alive” still causes a great deal of questioning by biologists. Hey, remember, there are several microorganisms obscure on our very own earth– and also new information revealed in life sciences all the time– so this is our note that this information can change as well as is still disputed. This is why we are not giving a specific mathematical worth for the number of attributes of life there are because we do not want to indicate they remain in a specific order or that what we are noting can not be expanded upon– or that this can’t include exemptions that we might not state. Also, the qualities we discuss can definitely be entitled in a different way. See, we’re not attempting to talk about a list that a person would certainly remember here. Our objective is really to get you considering what it suggests for an organism to be alive and qualities of life that can be checked out when attempting to examine living things.


We can check out the cell concept right here and also see that, according to this concept, living organisms are made from cells. Some organisms are unicellular- so they can be composed of simply one cell. However, a lot more complicated organisms, like a dog or cat, are multicellular and also consequently composed of numerous cells which can be set up into tissues– the tissues can comprise organs– the organs can be a part of organ systems. These are biological degrees of organization! As for our bathtub-grown pony? No cells.


Maintaining a controlled equilibrium is so important for several organic processes to even take place– for instance, enzymes usually need a certain pH array to also work properly. Maintaining homeostasis can suggest keeping a particular temperature and a particular percent of water concentration. Horses and your human body have all types of feedback systems in place to preserve homeostasis, however also a single-celled microorganism– like an amoeba– relies on its cell membrane layer to preserve homeostasis internally. Living microorganisms have a policy of homeostasis– which is not taking place in my bathtub-grown pony.

Metabolic Process

If you’re alive, you need to have some way to store and use energy for functioning, consisting of some processes that maintain homeostasis as pointed out previously. Chemical reactions occurring in living organisms are part of the metabolic processes. So simply to offer some instances of responses that are part of the metabolic process in living organisms– plants are autotrophs that can capture light energy to make sugar in a process known as photosynthesis. Animals are heterotrophs that normally need to eat something and after that digest it in order to acquire glucose. In both of these instances, organisms break down sugar in cellular respiration to make ATP energy. The metabolic process is occurring in a pony. However not in a bathtub horse.


This can be very basic, like unicellular bacteria which can replicate DNA and also split– right into 2– and now you have two bacteria. Or it can be more complex, like this living pony, which involves sperm and egg cells unifying to make a fertilized egg called a zygote. which will at some point develop into a baby horse. No reproduction for this bathtub-grown pony.

Growth and Development

Living organisms have hereditary products or genetic material which codes for their development as well as growth. A baby horse will establish and mature right into a grown-up pony due to the fact that its hereditary product consists of the guidelines for this growth and development. The bathtub-grown horse might grow in size because of water entering it, yet it’s not growing and developing based on hereditary guidelines. 

Response to Stimuli

Responding to stimuli is typically thought about as a characteristic of life. There can be internal and also external stimuli. If this pony really feels the need to consume, this can be because of the coordination of many-body systems inside signaling the pony that it is starving. If this horse detects risk, this outside stimulus may cause it to take off. Not so for the tub horse. However, you know, an action to a stimulus could not be evident. I used to have many cacti when I was a child. While I would not call them specifically interesting when I was a youngster, I did discover that if I left them in a windowsill and also didn’t turn them, they would bend– at least, over a period of a few weeks. That’s AMAZING since they are reacting to light. Plants responding to light are responses to stimuli.


Many researchers define the process of change over time as an attribute of life, although this would certainly occur over a longer period of time. The gene regularities in a population of living organisms can change in time due to devices, such as natural selection. Some genes can code for traits that cause higher reproductive fitness, while some genes might code for traits that reduce reproductive fitness. Over time, these can lead to adaptations. Due to the fact that the tub pony can not also replicate in the first place … you won’t see that.

Characteristics of life are definitely fascinating to discover. Bear in mind that these characteristics can be adjusted —– or possibly have exemptions. Some things are very difficult to classify. Take infections. Viruses are thought about, by the majority of scientists, as not be living. Infections, with their hereditary product, can recreate– although they need a host to duplicate. They can develop. But overall they seem to lack a great deal of the other characteristics of life, and also aren’t commonly identified as living. It’s also interesting to think about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, that is, a life that is not on our planet. Would it still have these qualities of life that we have discussed? Sometimes with scientific research, we find ourselves with even more questions.

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