The world we are living in is amazing. We see numerous living beings on land, in sky and in deep sea. Shape, size, color and there are many other features differentiating one living organism from other living organism. Many creatures share basic features. Similarly, some creatures are totally different. Some of them are having incredible ability to change their color and even shape to match their surroundings because they have to survive. There are some creatures having no bones. Some living organisms are living, growing and dying inside some other living organisms. Some living organisms are incredibly big. There are some living beings that cannot be seen without a microscope. However, all these creatures fall under one category, living organisms. All living organisms share common characteristics differentiating living organisms from non-living things. Now, let’s learn about the characteristics of living organisms.

7 characteristics of living organisms


It is one of the important characteristics of living organisms. We consume and utilize food. Similarly, every other living being consumes and utilizes food. Nutrition is necessary for a living organism to grow, repair damage and stay alive. Absorption and digestion of nutrients by living organisms) addresses multiple needs of living beings such as:

  • Producing energy for doing day-to-day activities
  • Building and maintaining tissues
  • Regulating bodily processes

Living beings cannot survive without food. Different living beings consume different types of food. Food that is toxic and deadly for one living being, the same food is a source of life and health for some other living being. Similarly, the waste produced by one living organism can be food for some other living organism. Nutrients we human need are classified into the following six classes:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Lipids
  • Vitamins
  • Water
  • Minerals


Removal of metabolic waste from the body of a living organism is called excretion. Waste build-up inside the body of a living organism is harmful and deadly as well. Whether it is a unicellular or multicellular organism, it must get rid of waste to stay healthy and continue to live. Every living being consumes some type of food and extracts energy from that food. Nutrients that provide energy are extracted by the digestive system. Some chemical reactions take place and the extracted nutrients are converted into energy. The remaining undigested food and other toxic elements inside the body have to be removed. Every living being has an excretory system. There are several organs in our excretory system working together to eliminate waste in solid (faeces) and liquid (urine) forms.


It is a metabolic process taking place inside the bodies of living organisms. Respiration is the process by which the body obtains energy from food. Aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration are the two types of respiration. In aerobic respiration, the body of the living being needs oxygen to break down food. In anaerobic respiration, the body of the living organism breaks down food in the absence of oxygen.
The process of respiration in animals is different from the process of respiration in plants. Animals eat carbohydrates. Plants produce carbohydrates through a process called photosynthesis. Plants need carbon dioxide and sun to produce carbohydrates.


All living beings are sensitive. Living organisms sense and respond to the things going around. Animals have sense organs connected to the nervous system. This system carries signals from sense organs to the brain and the brain triggers some appropriate response. Almost all animals have some senses including sight, taste, touch, smell and hearing.
For example, when we touch some hot object, skin, the largest sensory organ sends signals to the brain through the nervous system. The brain triggers a fitting response and we remove our hands.
Plants are also sensitive to the environment.
For example, plants grow towards the sun. You might have touched the touch-me-not plant at least for once.


Reproduction is another important characteristics of living organisms. All living beings produce offspring ensuring that species continue to exist. A living organism produces one or more living organisms of its own kind. Offspring and parents have the same features. The reproduction can be sexual reproduction or asexual reproduction. Life and evolution are impossible without reproduction.
In sexual reproduction, two organisms of the same kind and opposite sex are involved. The majority of animals produce offspring through sexual reproduction. As a result, the race continue to exist.
In asexual reproduction, no organism of opposite sex is required to reproduce. Binary fusion in bacteria, fragmentation, budding and vegetative propagation are examples of asexual reproduction.


The life of every living organism, be it a unicellular or multicellular begins as a single cell. Both unicellular and multicellular living organisms grow with time. The size is often doubled in the case of unicellular organisms such as bacteria. The size and number of cells increase in the multicellular living organisms. Production of more cells produces more tissues which result in the growth of organs. As the living organism grows, it’s size, shape and other features are also changed. Growth in some organisms is a drastic transformation. For example, the life of a butterfly starts with a single cell (egg). And, then begins its transformation into a caterpillar. The caterpillar further grows into a pupa and one day a butterfly growing inside a motionless pupa comes out and starts flying.
Similarly, a seed grows into a big tree.


Both animals and plants move. Both internal and external body parts of animals have the ability to move. External body parts move to serve purposes such as maintaining body equilibrium, growing or collecting and eating food and more. Animals move their eyeballs to see objects.
Movements of internal body parts serve purposes such as moving food in the digestive system, circulation of blood, removing waste from the body, giving birth to a child and a lot more.
Just like in case of animals, parts of plants also move. Plants move when they respond to water, light, gravity, chemicals and other external stimuli. Growth of roots in soil is a movement. Growth towards the sun is also a movement.

So, these were the 7 characteristics of living organisms. I will be back with one more biology article. Do comment if you like or dislike the article.

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