What Makes Something Alive?

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What Makes
Something Alive?
The 8 characteristics of living things
1. Cells
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All living things contain cells
Organisms can be:
 Unicellular – 1 cell
 Multicellular – many cells
Living things are highly organized:
 Cells  Tissue  Organ 
Organ system  Organism
2. Reproduction
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All living things can reproduce to
make more of their species
Two types of reproduction:
 Sexual reproduction – 2 parents
 Asexual reproduction – 1 parent
3. DNA
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All living things contain genetic
material that they pass on to their
offspring
This is why children often look like
their parents!
4. Growth
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All living things grow and develop throughout their life
5. Energy
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All living things need energy in order to survive
Two ways to get energy:
 Plants make it themselves (autotrophic)
 Animals get it from the food they eat
(heterotrophic)
6. Response to Environment/Stimuli
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Living things respond to changes in
their environment
Unlike adaptations, these changes are
immediate and take place in an
individual organism
Examples:
 Blinking, flinching
 Plants growing towards
sunlight
7. Homeostasis
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Living things must maintain an
internal balance in order to survive
Some examples are:
 Shivering to heat up
 Increasing heart rate when
running
 Thirst response when
dehydrated
8. Adaptation to Change
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Living things change over time
This usually takes many generations
Adaptations take place in groups of
organisms, not individuals
Examples:
 Plants that are adapted to live in
the desert
 Drug resistant bacteria

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