What Makes Something Alive?

What Makes
Something Alive?
The 8 characteristics of living things
1. Cells
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
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
All living things contain genetic
material that they pass on to their
This is why children often look like
their parents!
4. Growth
All living things grow and develop throughout their life
5. Energy
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
6. Response to Environment/Stimuli
Living things respond to changes in
their environment
Unlike adaptations, these changes are
immediate and take place in an
individual organism
 Blinking, flinching
 Plants growing towards
7. Homeostasis
Living things must maintain an
internal balance in order to survive
Some examples are:
 Shivering to heat up
 Increasing heart rate when
 Thirst response when
8. Adaptation to Change
Living things change over time
This usually takes many generations
Adaptations take place in groups of
organisms, not individuals
 Plants that are adapted to live in
the desert
 Drug resistant bacteria

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