Matter makes up everything, everywhere.  All matter, both living and non-living, is composed of miniature chemical building blocks called atoms. Your body contains billions of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and carbon atoms.

What is life?  What does it mean to be alive?  How is something made “living”?

There is no universal agreement on what life is.  However, scientists generally accept that the biological manifestation of life exhibits seven specific characteristics. In order for something to be described as living, that something must display all seven of those characteristics.

Biology is the study of life.  But what is life?  All living organisms share the following characteristics.  These characteristics of life can be remembered with the use of “GRAMMIC”.

All Living Things …

1.      Grow

A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter. The particular species begins to multiply and expand as the evolution continues to flourish.

2.     Reproduce.

All living organisms reproduce to produce new organisms, either by sexual or asexual means.

3.     Adaptation

Living organisms adapt to their environment and evolve.

4.     Movement

Living things have moving parts or processes.  Examples include the following processes cytoplasmic flow, cilia, flagella, muscles.

5.     Metabolism … depend on chemical reactions and require energy.

Living organisms require chemical processes to maintain life.  They use energy to carry out energy-requiring activities such as digestion, reproduction, cellular processes and locomotion.

6.     Irritability… respond to stimuli.

A response can take many forms, but a response is often expressed by motion, for example, the leaves of a plant turning toward the sun or an animal chasing its prey

7.     Cells

Cells are the basic components of all living things. If it doesn’t have cells its not alive.  Some organisms are single-celled, like bacteria, or multi-celled, like humans.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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