Introduction to Life Science

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Living and Non-Living Things

It’s easy to distinguish between living and non-living things, right? Rocks, buildings, and cars are non-living things while bacteria, plants, butterflies, moss, and humans are all living things. What distinguishes the two is the ability to live things to grow and reproduce. Life Science is the scientific study of living things.

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It has many fields of study, such as –

  • Botany – the study of plants
  • Zoology – the study of animals
  • Microbiology – the study of micro-organisms
  • Cell Biology – the study of cells of living things
  • Ecology – the study of how organisms interact with one another and their environment
  • Genetics – the study of genes and heredity
  • Paleontology – the study of fossils and evolution

What are the Characteristics of Living Things?

All living things typically exhibit the following basic characteristics –

1. Reproduction

Living things reproduce to create more of their kind. They may do so Asexually or Sexually. In asexual reproduction, a new organism is produced from only one existing organism. In sexual reproduction, two sex cells from two existing organisms come together to produce a new organism.

2. Growth

All living organisms undergo an orderly increase in size as they mature. Plants use carbon dioxide and water to grow while animals grow by eating plants and other animals and converting that into animal tissue.

3. Metabolism

Many chemical processes convert food molecules and energy into useful forms. This is referred to as Metabolism. Sunlight is the primary source of energy, which is used by plants in the process of Photosynthesis to create food in the form of chemical compounds. Other biological activities in plants and animals combine these chemical compounds with oxygen to create high energy food molecules for use as needed.

4. Movement

Most living things exhibit movement. Even plants bend towards light, close their flowers at night, and exhibit the flow of sap in their stems. Animals need to move to search for food. Even stationary living things like ocean sponges exhibit movement internally to take in food particles from water.

5. Responsiveness

Living things sense and respond to changes in their external environment. The changes are called Stimuli. Light and temperature are the most common stimuli. The response to stimuli is most commonly some type of movement. For example, tortoises contract into their shell if they perceive threats, humans shield our eyes in strong light, bacteria move away from harmful Substances.

6. Adaptation

A unique characteristic of living organisms is their ability to increase their chances of survival and reproduction in a given environment. They do this through the transfer of genetic material, known as Genes, from one generation to another. These genes often undergo adaptations to make the next generation better suited to survive and reproduce. For example, certain insects develop resistance to insecticides through the process of adaptation of genes.

In conclusion

Life scientists study all such characteristics of living things, from the microscopic, molecular level of cells, and their structures to the physiology, functioning and behavior of all living organisms.

Check Point

  1. The scientific study of living things is called _______.
  2. Which of the following is NOT a field of life science?
    1. Botany
    2. Economy
    3. Paleontology
    4. Ecology
  3. Living things reproduce either ______ or ______.
  4. ______ involves processes which convert food molecules and energy into useful forms.
  5. Which of the following is NOT a characteristic of living things?
    1. Adaptation
    2. Responsiveness
    3. Reproduction
    4. Philosophy

Answer Key

  1. Life Science
  2. b) Economy
  3. Asexually, Sexually
  4. Metabolism
  5. d) Philosophy

 

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