Characteristics of Living Things
Defining life can be very difficult. Scientists don’t all agree on a standard list of characteristics that define all life, but most generally agree on a common set of properties. Many of these properties are not limited to living things; some nonliving things may share a few of these characteristics as well. For instance, viruses don’t have the necessary machinery to reproduce themselves; they must use cellular hosts to make more viral copies. Because they cannot reproduce, they are not considered living.
What is life? Research six specimens from the list below, describe them as living, nonliving, or dead and give support for why each belongs in their respective category.
Fertilized chicken egg
Hair from human head
Egg from grocery store
Skin cell from back of hand
What traits did you list as characteristics of living things, but were not easily observable?
List several processes that occur while an organism is alive, but cease when it is dead.
Did any nonliving things possess some of the same characteristics as living things? Which ones?
How do plants differ from animals in their life activities?
Define the word dormant. What factors influence whether something is considered dormant?
Research one of the following controversial discoveries: nanobacteria (Young & Martel, 2009), the “fossilized Martian bacteria” observed on the meteorite ALH84001 (McKay et al., 1996), or Craig Venter’s 2010 announcement of the first creation of “synthetic life” (Gibson et al., 2010). Review the claims made by the researchers who announced the discovery. Do the organisms fit the definition of life? How so?
Organize this essay assignment using subtitles that summarize the topic from each question above. For example, to answer Question 1, use a descriptive subtitle like the following: What is Life?
Your essay should be approximately 2-3 pages in length. Answer each question under the subtitle using complete sentences that relate back to the question. Be sure to use APA formatting throughout your essay with 1-inch margins, 12-point type and double spacing throughout. Include a title page, introduction, answers to the questions with subtitles and concluding paragraph. Remember to include in-text citations within the body of the essay referencing your resources (i.e. Murray, 2014). Also, be sure to include a reference section at the end of your assignment listing all required readings and any additional resources you used to complete your essay. A helpful guide to writing a quality essay can be found in Trident’s Student Guide to Writing a High-Quality Academic Paper. This guide also provides links to example essays written within APA format.
Direct quotes should be limited and must be designated by quotation marks. Paraphrased ideas must give credit to the original author, for example (Murray, 2014). Direct copying from “homework help” websites will not receive credit. Once you have completed your assignment within a word document, please upload your final version to the Module One Case Assignment dropbox. Please also note your Turnitin originality score and make revisions as needed. Please contact your instructor with any questions.
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