Characteristics of Living Things
While there’s a great deal of variety among organisms, all of them share the same basic features. There are seven of these characteristics of living things. In this article, we’ll go over those characteristics as well as some examples of how they’re shown.
Living things have seven characteristics: C-H-A-R-G-E-R
C: Made up of Cells
H: Maintains Homeostasis
Living things also have to be able to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the set of conditions an organism’s body needs to function. These conditions are different for different types of organisms. For example, most animals have to keep their body warm. Oppositely, some plants prefer to be quite cold. Either way, they both need certain conditions to survive.
A: Evolves Adaptations over Time
Another concept that unites living things is evolution. In order for any species to survive, its members have to evolve over time. This allows the species to adapt to changes in its environment. Of course, it also requires that living things have a way to evolve. As far as scientists know, all life on earth has DNA. DNA can mutate over many generations, creating new adaptations in a species.
R: Can Reproduce
A crucial characteristic of living things is that they can reproduce. That is, that they can somehow make more members of their species. They can do this either through sexual or asexual reproduction. This characteristic is especially important because it without reproduction there wouldn’t be evolution.
G: Grows and Changes / Develops
All living things will grow throughout their lifetime, and many will develop. This often means that they have clear phases in their life. For example, tadpoles develop into frogs and tiger cubs develop to become tigers. But, this isn’t always the case. Unicellular organisms generally don’t develop. Instead, they just grow in size.
E: Requires Energy / Has a Metabolism
R: Responds to the Environment
The final characteristic of living things is simple. In fact, you might’ve never even thought about it. It just means that living things react. They do something in response to whatever interacts with them. And, they interact with things that appeal to them. One example: Squirrels run in reaction to you approaching them. To give another: You look for food in reaction to feeling hungry.
Other Great Resources:
Video Lesson on the Characteristics of Living Things: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQPVXrV0GNA
Living Things that Can’t Reproduce: http://www.bnd.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/answer-man/article135296594.html
More Advanced Description of these Characteristics: https://www.ck12.org/biology/Characteristics-of-Life/lesson/Characteristics-of-Life-Advanced-BIO-ADV/
Notes for Studying the Characteristics of Living Things: https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/biology/biology/the-science-of-biology/characteristics-of-living-things