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Characteristics of Living Things

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Characteristics of Living Things - Lesson Summary

All the forms on earth can be classified into living organisms and non-living materials. Living organisms exhibit certain characteristic features which make them different from non-living organisms.

Characteristics of living organisms
All living organisms exhibit certain characteristics of life.
  • Living things require food
  • Living things exhibit growth
  • Living things perform respiration
  • Living things excrete
  • Livings Things move
  • Livings Things respond to stimuli
  • Livings Things Reproduce
  • Livings Things Die

Living things require food
Livings things require food to survive and grow. Food makes the body grow faster, and gives energy to the body to help it perform the life activities.
Plants are considered to be autotrophs. The type of nutrition they exhibit is called as autotrophic nutrition. Plants synthesise their own food from raw materials like carbon dioxide and water in the presence of sunlight and chlorophyll by the process of photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is taken from the atmosphere through small pores called as stomata. Water is absorbed from the soil by roots.
  • Stomata are small pores on the surface of the leaf. The stomata contain guard cells that regulate the opening and closing of the stomata. They are opened only when the plant needs carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. They even release excess water by the process of transpiration.
  • Chlorophyll is the green coloured pigment present in the chloroplasts of the leaf. It is responsible for the absorption of sunlight required for photosynthesis.
Animals depend on plants for their food. Bigger animals depend on smaller animals for food. Animals are called as heterotrophs and they exhibit heterotrophic nutrition. Based on the type of nutrition, heterotrophs are classified into holozoic forms, parasitic forms, saprophytic forms and symbiotic forms.

Living things exhibit growth
As living things take in food to obtain energy. Energy is necessary for growth. Organisms increase in height, weight etc. to exhibit growth. Living organisms have different stages of growth in their life. Organisms grow from birth till death. At some stages of life, growth is rapid and during others, it is very slow. Growth in living organism is an irreversible change. Animals are born as small forms which later grow and reach adulthood. Then they become old and die after sometime. Plants also grow, reproduce mostly by producing seeds during their lifetime and die.

Living things perform respiration
Respiration is the process of breathing in oxygen and giving out carbon dioxide. Respiration takes place in every cell and is called as cellular respiration. Oxygen is necessary to break up food and produce energy from it. Different animals possess different organs for respiration. Human beings respire through lungs. Lungs are spongy structures made up of special cells called as alveoli. Alveoli are lined by thin membranes which perform gaseous exchange. Even plants respire only in the night through small pores called as stomata.
Respiration in plants takes place during night. Stomata are the small pores seen on the surface of the leaves. They open and close to exchange gases from the environment. Oxygen is taken in from the environment and carbon dioxide is released into the environment during the process of respiration.
Livings things excrete The process of eliminating wastes from the body is called excretion. Plants eliminate harmful waste substances in the form of secretions such as resins and gums. Animals possess different organs for excretion. Animals excrete their wastes in the form of ammonia or urea or uric acid, carbon dioxide and certain salts.
Livings things move Even though plants are livings organisms, they cannot move as their roots are fixed firmly to the soil. So, they require lot of strength in their cell wall. It is strong and provides support to the plants during bad (adverse) conditions like strong wind, rainfall etc. Plants exhibit movement being at the same place. Stems bend towards sunlight. Roots grow towards earth. Opening and closing of flowers is also a type of movement. In some plants, leaves droop during night time and open during daylight. Animals can move from one place to another in order to escape from adverse climatic conditions.
Livings things respond to stimuli Stimulus is the change in the immediate environment of a living organism. Every living thing responds in some way or the other to stimuli. Plants respond to environmental stimuli like light. Plants grow towards light. Roots in plants grow away from the light. The response in plants to stimulus can be observed easily. e.g. Touch-me-not plant. Some animals like cockroach respond to the environmental stimuli like light.
Livings things reproduce All livings things reproduce. Some animals lay eggs, while others reproduce by giving birth to young ones. Plants produce seeds that can germinate into new plants. Some plants do not produce seeds but give rise to new plants in different ways.

Livings things die All livings things must die one day or the other. As an organism grows, it undergoes many changes during its lifetime. Finally, it undergoes ageing process and dies after sometime.


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