What Are Characteristics of Nonliving Things?

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A nonliving thing is a body or object that is inanimate or dead. It is anything that lacks or stops displaying the characteristics of life. One of the most significant characteristics and differences of a nonliving to a living thing is its lack of protoplasm, which is the living substance of cells. Without protoplasm, nonliving things are not capable of reproduction, growth, movement, respiration and metabolism.

Nonliving things are classified into two primary types: things that were never part of any living entity and things that were once parts of a living thing. Any chemical element, such as gold, copper and silver, are examples of the first type. The first type can be divided into two classifications: artificial and naturally occurring nonliving things. Cars, pencils and bags are examples of artificial objects, while soil, air, water and stone are nonliving things by nature. Coal, which is formed when dead plant matter decomposes into peat, is an example of the second type of nonliving things. Paper, though nonliving, is made from trees.

Nonliving things also have unlimited duration of existence. While living things die and decompose, nonliving things such as rocks, mountains, air and water have existed for millions of years. They may grow, but they do so only by accretion, which is the process of growth by accumulating added layers of matter.