Biology – What is It?

Biology is the study of life and how it works. If you dissect the word itself, you will find that ‘Bio’ originates from the Greek word for life, and ‘ology’ originates from the Greek word for ‘study of’. It studies the evolution, development, origin, and characteristics of living creatures. Still not getting it? Then read on my friend, for you are not alone. Life is very diverse, and covers an incredible portion of our planet. Consequently, there are many different fields of biology, and many different field of expertise. If you are interested in a certain kind of animal, say, snakes, then you would become a Herpetologist, which studies reptiles and amphibians. Or maybe you could study Biogeography, which is about the distribution of different species, not just over space, but over time. Marine biologists study the ocean, but there is nothing saying you can’t focus your research on a certain ecosystem or a certain animal. You also must remember that Plants are part of life too. How can you tell?

There are 7 things that all living things can do. Professionals call these the 7 characteristics of life, though they don’t necessarily have to exhibit all 7 items.

  • 1st: the ability to regulate the internal environment to maintain order. This includes things like sweating, shivering, sending blood to certain parts of the body, that sort of thing.
  • 2nd: Being composed of one or more cells, which are like little building blocks that make up the body.
  • 3rd: Being able to convert food into energy for the body to use. This can be plants that herbivores eat, meat that carnivores eat, or food that plants make themselves.
  • 4th: being able to grow. The organism must be able to make its body parts grow, and not simply collect matter.
  • 5th: Being able to adapt to you surrounding in order to survive is essential to life.
  • 6th: Response to stimuli. This means that the organism or animal must be able to sense its surroundings and react to them. Plants can feel the sun and turn their leaves toward, in order to better grow and thrive. Animals will sense and see their surroundings, and move through them without harm.
  • 7th and maybe the most important: Living creatures need to be able to reproduce members of the same species. This does not have to be from two parent creatures, but a creature can produce asexually, such as some species of starfish which will split themselves in half, and each half becomes a new starfish. Or mammals, which will breed with two parents and give birth to live young.

All of these things are what makes life so unique. Scientists are looking for life on other planets, and wondering if it will be anything like on earth.