The simplest classification of objects is that of living and nonliving. By definition, only living things are considered to be organisms. Scientists have developed a number of criteria for determining whether or not something can in fact be considered a living being.
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The line between living and nonliving things isn't always so clear. Not all living things exhibit every commonly accepted "life" characteristic, and some nonliving things have characteristics of living organisms.
All living things grow. Animals stop growing when they reach maturity, while plants grow indefinitely for the duration of their lives.
Living organisms all have some form of respiration that is carried out within and regulated by their own bodies.
Living things can reproduce themselves. They pass on their genetic information to their offspring, ensuring the propagation of their species.
Non-living things cannot move under their own power, whereas all living things can move deliberately. Even plants, which seem stationary, can turn themselves to better reach the sun.
Environmental Adaptation and Response
Non-living things can neither respond nor adapt to their environment. They can be altered by external forces in their environment, but only living things can change their habits or metabolisms to adapt to ambient changes.
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