characteristics of living things


There are only two categories of things on earth, they are living things and non-living things. Living things includes plants and animals.

Non-living things are those things that don’t have life in them of living things including man, rabbit, dogs, monkeys, lizards, cattle and grasses etc, while non-living things are tables, chairs, iron, glass, plates etc.

Living things, also known as organisms, are entities that exhibit characteristics of life. They are composed of one or more cells and possess the ability to grow, reproduce, respond to stimuli, maintain homeostasis, and undergo metabolism. Living things can be classified into different categories based on their characteristics and evolutionary relationships.

Living things can be found in a wide range of environments, including terrestrial (land), aquatic (water), and aerial (air) habitats. They display remarkable diversity in form, size, and complexity. Some examples of living things include animals, plants, fungi, protists, and bacteria.

Here are some key characteristics and features of living things:

  1. Cellular organization: Living organisms are composed of one or more cells. Cells are the basic structural and functional units of life.
  2. Growth and development: Living things can grow and develop, increasing their size and complexity over time. Growth is the process of adding more cells or increasing cell size, while development involves changes in shape, structure, and function.
  3. Reproduction: Living organisms have the ability to reproduce, creating offspring either sexually or asexually. Sexual reproduction involves the fusion of genetic material from two parents, while asexual reproduction involves the production of offspring from a single parent without the involvement of gametes.
  4. Response to stimuli: Living things can respond to external stimuli or changes in their environment. This response can be in the form of movement, changes in physiological processes, or behaviou.
  5. Homeostasis: Organisms have the ability to maintain a relatively stable internal environment, despite external changes. This process, known as homeostasis, involves regulating various factors such as temperature, pH levels, and nutrient concentrations.
  6. Metabolism: Living organisms undergo metabolic processes to obtain energy and carry out necessary biochemical reactions. Metabolism involves the conversion of nutrients into energy and the synthesis of molecules needed for growth, maintenance, and reproduction.


ALL LIVING THINGS ARE DISTINGUISHED FROM NON-LIVING THINGS BY A WHOLE LOT OF DIFFERENCES. These distinguishing factors are what is known as the characteristics of living things.
So the following are generally considered as the characteristics of living things.


MOVEMENT: movement is defined as the ability of an organism, either in part or whole from place to place in search of food or comfort, reproduction and as a means of escape from danger.

Generally, most animals can move from place to place in search of food, while most plants can only move part of their body in response to stimuli unless for a few microscopic plants which are capable of complete movement.

  1. NUTRITION. Nutrition is defined as the ability of living things or organisms to feed. The major reason for feeding living things is to enable them to carry out life processes like growth, reproduction, respiration and movement.
Although most green plants can manufacture their own food through a process known as photosynthesis, known also as autotrophic or holophytic nutrition.
Animals cannot manufacture their own food and hence depends on food manufactured by plants, and this type of feeding is known as heterotrophic or holozoic nutrition.
3. RESPIRATION. Respiration is defined as the exchange of gases between organisms and their environment. The main purpose of respiration is to break down/burn down or oxidize food substances in order to release energy that is used for all their life processes.

4. EXCRETION. Excretion is defined as the removal of metabolic wastes from the body of any living thing. The purpose of excretion is to remove the metabolic waste products from the system, e.g. water and carbon dioxide in animals, which are toxic to the body.
So the process of getting rid of these waste materials from the body is called excretion as characteristic of living things

5. IRRITABILITY. Irritability is defined as the ability of an organism to respond to stimuli. All living things exhibit sensitivity in order to enable them to survive in their environment. In clear terms, stimuli mean the ability of any living thing to respond to changes that occur within its environment. read more of stimuli here

6. GROWTH. Growth is defined as the irreversible or permanent increase in size, mass, or weight of an organism. It is most known as the increase or addition of living proton plasmic materials within the cell of the organism. The purpose of growth is to enable the organism to repair or rebuild worn-out tissues in its body..

Characteristics of living things
There are seven main activities which make living organisms different from non-living things. These are the seven characteristics of living things.

1 Nutrition characteristics of living things
Living things take in nutrient materials from their surroundings by a process called feeding that they use for growth or to provide energy as a major characteristic of living things. Nutrition is the process by which organisms obtain energy and raw materials from nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats.

2 Respiration characteristics of living things
Respiration is the release of energy or used air components from food substances in all living cells which is known as metabolism. Living things break down food within their cells to release energy for carrying out life processes.

  1. Growth characteristics of living things
    Growth is seen in all living things. It involves using food to produce new cells. The permanent increase in cell number and size is called growth. There are two types of growth, plant growth and animal growth type. Animals increase in size all over the body while plant species grow at the apex
  1. Reproduction characteristics of living things
    All living organisms have the ability to produce offspring.
  2. Sensitivity characteristics of living things
    All living things are able to sense and respond to stimuli around them such as light, temperature, water, gravity and chemical substances. This is another word for the irritability of living things
  1. Movement  as characteristics of living things
    All living things move and this is known as locomotion. It is very obvious that a Plant too moves in various different ways not just the animals alone. The movement may be so slow that it is very difficult to see. The movement of plants can be seen in Hydra
  2. Excretion characteristics of living things
    All living things excrete. As a result of the many chemical reactions occurring in cells, they have to get rid of waste products which might poison the cells. Excretion is defined as the removal of toxic materials, the waste products of metabolism and substances in excess from the body of an organism.

So to differentiate living  things from non-living things is to take into account the above characteristics of living things

  1. economic tools for nation building
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