What is the difference between living things and nonliving things?


Quick Answer

Living things are made up of cells, maintain homeostasis, move, feed, grow, reproduce, respire, respond to environmental stimuli and excrete waste, while nonliving things do not have all of these characteristics. Biologists define life using a body of traits that living organisms share.

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Full Answer

Multicellular living organisms are composed of building blocks called cells. Cells form tissues, which form organs. Organs form organ systems that work to form an entire organism.

Nonliving things do not undergo homeostasis as living things do. Homeostasis is the process of maintaining the internal environment within an organism despite changes in the external environment. All living things move in some way. Plants shift their positions to keep up with the sunlight in surrounding areas. Living organisms require nutrition to survive.

Nutrients give them the energy they need to develop. Using that energy, they grow and change. For example, a seedling sprouts into a plant, and a frog morphs into a tadpole. Eating also gives organisms energy to undergo respiration. The remains of food are expelled as waste from the living organism's body. Living things also pass on their genetic information by reproducing.

Another key difference between living and nonliving things is that living things respond to their environment. Animals become startled by loud noises and cry out if injured. However, nonliving things, such as rocks, make no response to their surroundings regardless of what occurs around them.

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