characteristics of all living things

characteristics of all living things

characteristics of all living things

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characteristics of all living things

Biology examines the structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution of living things. It classifies and describes organisms, their functions, how species come into existence, and the interactions they have with each other and with the natural environment. Four unifying principles form the foundation of modern biology: cell theory, evolution, genetics and homeostasis.

Most biological sciences are specialized areas of study. Biology includes biochemistry, cell biology, microbiology, immunology, genetics, physiologyzoologyecology, evolutionary biology, and botany. Biochemistry is the study of the chemicals that make up life. Cell biology is the study of life at the level of the cell. Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms. Immunology is the study of an organism’s resistance to disease. Genetics is the study of how organisms pass traits to their offspring.

The study of how the human body works is called physiology. Zoology is the study of animals. The study of how organisms interact with their environment and each other is called ecology. Evolutionary biology is the study of how populations and species change over time. Botany is the study of plants. The four unifying principles are important foundations for each and every field of biology. Applied fields of biology such as medicine and genetic research involve many specialized areas of study.

characteristics of all living things
characteristics of all living things


All living things are able to maintain a more-or-less constant internal environment. They keep things relatively stable on the inside regardless of the conditions around them. The condition in which a system is maintained in a more-or-less steady state is called homeostasis.

Human beings, for example, maintain stable internal body temperature. If you go outside when the air temperature is below freezing, your body doesn’t freeze. Instead, by shivering and other means, it maintains a stable internal temperature.

Growth and Change

Living things grow and change on a daily basis, but also over many generations. The largest redwood trees began as tiny seeds that grew a little more each day. But redwood trees have also adapted to their environment over millions of years, making them resistant to wildfires and tree rot. Redwoods, like all living things, are capable of growing and changing in the short term and evolving in the long term.


Single-celled organisms reproduce by first duplicating their DNA, and then dividing it equally as the cell prepares to divide to form two new cells. Multicellular organisms often produce specialized reproductive germline cells that will form new individuals. When reproduction occurs, genes containing DNA are passed along to an organism’s offspring. These genes ensure that the offspring will belong to the same species and will have similar characteristics, such as size and shape.


Fungi process energy from dead leaves, sharks receive energy from eating smaller fish, and flowers create energy through photosynthesis. All living things, also known as biotic factors in an ecosystem, require energy to survive. Heterotrophs, including carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, and decomposers, find food from other organisms. Autotrophs, such as phytoplankton and iron bacteria, make their own food. But all of these organisms use sustenance to create energy through chemical reactions, which maintain nutrition and health.

characteristics of all living things
characteristics of all living things


Even the smallest organisms are complex and require multiple regulatory mechanisms to coordinate internal functions, respond to stimuli, and cope with environmental stresses. Two examples of internal functions regulated in an organism are nutrient transport and blood flow. Organs (groups of tissues working together) perform specific functions, such as carrying oxygen throughout the body, removing wastes, delivering nutrients to every cell, and cooling the body.

Responds to Stimuli

Animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and all living things are sensitive to their environments. They can react to stimuli, which are changes in their environment, to protect themselves. Environmental stimuli might include temperature changes, smells that indicate a predator is nearby, or noises from distressed offspring. Living things may also respond to pain, hunger, thirst, or discomfort. This sensitivity helps an organism survive in their environments.


Living things have multiple levels of organization.A cell is the basic unit of the structure and function of living things. Cells are the building blocks of living organisms. An average adult human being, for example, consists of trillions of cells. Living things may appear very different from one another on the outside, but their cells are very similar. Compare the human cells and onion cells in the figure below.

Living Creatures Move

To classify an organism as living, it must exhibit some form of movement. Though humans and animals obviously move, other items such as plants also move though it is hard to see without a time-lapse camera. Plants move their buds or leaves toward sunlight or away from shaded areas to promote growth.

Characteristics of all Living Things biology

Life process Explanation Earthworms
Movement All living things move in some way. This may be obvious, such as animals that are able to walk, or less obvious, such as plants that have parts that move to track the movement of the sun. Earthworms use circular and longitudinal muscles to move through soil or along surfaces.
Respiration Respiration is a chemical reaction that happens within cells to release energy from food. The food that earthworms eat supplies their body with energy-rich molecules such as glucose. On entering the cells of their body, these molecules are broken down in a series of steps to release energy to be used by the body, producing carbon dioxide and water as waste products.
Sensitivity The ability to detect changes in the surrounding environment. Earthworms have light-sensitive cells scattered in their outer skin. Their skin cells are also sensitive to touch and chemicals.


All living things grow. Earthworms hatch from eggs and can grow up to a metre or more in length! Some earthworms are also able to regrow small parts of their body that have been lost or injured.
Reproduction The ability to reproduce and pass genetic information onto their offspring. Earthworms have both sperm and eggs within their bodies (they are hermaphrodites) but they cannot self-fertilise and need to mate with another individual. After mating, a cocoon containing the fertilised eggs is deposited in the soil.
Excretion Getting rid of waste. Earthworms excrete waste from their anus – the last segment of their body.
Nutrition The intake and use of nutrients. This occurs in very different ways in different kinds of living things. Earthworm nutrition comes from a variety of sources, depending on their species. Food types include manure, compost, plant material, fungimicroorganisms and decaying animals. They take in food through their mouths.
characteristics of all living things
characteristics of all living things

Living things

Living things exist and are alive and are made of microscopic structures called cells. They grow and exhibit movement or locomotion. They experience metabolism, which includes anabolic and catabolic reactions.

Living things are capable of producing a new life which is of their own kind through the process of reproduction. Living things have a particular life span and are not immortal.

Cellular Respiration enables living organisms to acquire energy which is used by cells to perform their functions. They digest food for energy and also excrete waste from the body. Their life cycle can be summarised as follows – birth, growth, reproduction and death.

Examples of living things are animals, birds, insects, and human beings.

Following are the important characteristics of living things:

  1. Living things exhibit locomotory motion, they move. Animals are able to move as they possess specialized locomotory organs, for example – Earthworms move through the soil surface through longitudinal and circular muscles.  Plants move in order to catch sunlight for photosynthesis
  2. Living things respire. Respiration is a chemical reaction, which occurs inside cells to release energy from the food. Transport of gases takes place. The food that is ingested through the process of digestion is broken down to release energy that is utilized by the body to produce water and carbon dioxide as by-products.
  3. Living things are sensitive to touch (and other stimuli as well) and have the capability to sense changes in their environment.
  4. They grow. Living things mature and grow through different stages of development.
  5. One of the striking features is that living things are capable of producing offspring of their own kind through the process of reproduction, wherein genetic information is passed from the parents to the offspring.
  6. They acquire and fulfil their nutritional requirements to survive through the process of nutrition and digestion, which involves engulfing and digesting the food. Some living organisms are also autotrophic, which means they can harness the sun’s energy to make their food (also known as autotrophs).
  7. The digested food is eliminated from the body through the process of excretion.
characteristics of all living things
characteristics of all living things

What are the examples of single-celled and multicellular living organisms?

Bacteria and yeasts are examples of single-celled organisms. At the same time, the rest of the living things, such as animals and plants, consist of hundreds of trillions of cells and fall into the category of multicellular living organisms.

 What is the genetic mechanism?

Living organisms reproduce utilizing the same genetic mechanism. The genetic mechanism carries data and passes it on from one generation to the next. An essential fact about the genetic mechanism is that one generation can be slightly different from the previous one, and this develops diversity in living organisms.


  • All living things are made of cells, use energy, respond to stimuli, grow and reproduce, and maintain homeostasis.
  • All living things consist of one or more cells. Cells are the basic units of structure and function of living organisms.
  • Energy is the ability to change or move matter. All life processes require energy, so all living things need energy.
  • All living things can sense and respond to stimuli in their environment. Stimuli might include temperature, light, or gravity.
  • All living things grow and reproduce. Multicellular organisms grow by increasing in cell size and number. Single-celled organisms increase in cell size. All organisms can normally reproduce, or produce offspring. Reproduction can be sexual or asexual.
  • All living things have ways of maintaining a stable internal environment. This stable condition is called homeostasis.


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