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Living and Non-living things

All the living and non-living things on the Earth are made up of matter which mainly exists in 3 different form viz. solid, liquid and gaseous states.

What are living things?

All the things on Earth that are capable of exhibiting certain characteristic features which help them to maintain and survive are called living things. These feature include:
  1. Growth and development
  2. Nutrition
  3. Respiration
  4. Reproduction
  5. Excretion
  6. Movement 
Living things need energy for performing all these functions and for their survival. They get the energy from the external (outside) source.

What are non-living things?

Things that do not exhibit the characteristic features of the living things are categorized as non-living things. There are 2 types of non-living things. These are:
  1. Natural things: things that occur in nature like mountains, rocks etc.
  2. Man-made things: things that are made by man like TV, books, car etc.

Broad classification of living things

All the living things in turn are broadly divided into 2 groups based on some basic similar features. These are:
  1. Plants
  2. Animals

What is a plant?

Plants are one of the main groups of living things and these belong to the Plant Kingdom. Plants include trees, shrubs, bushes, grasses, creepers, climbers etc. The plant body is made up of tiny brick-like fundamental structural and functional units called cells. Most of the plants grow on the land / soil and stay in one place and are capable of making their own food.

There are two broad classifications of  plants. These are:

Green plants - These plants contain a green color pigment called chlorophyll in their leaves which is capable of trapping light energy from Sun. Due to the presence of chlorophyll, the leaves of green plants appear green in color. Hence these plants are called green plants. Green plants are capable of preparing their own food (compounds called carbohydrates that are made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen) through a process called photosynthesis. Hence, green plants are called autotrophs. All the other living beings including non-green plants, animals and human beings directly and indirectly depend on green plants for their food. Green plants are also called Producers. E.g, most of the plants that we see in the environment are green plants.

Non-green plants - Chlorophyll is absent in these plants and hence these plants are unable to prepare their own food. These plants depend on the green plants for food either as parasites or saprophytes or by forming symbiotic relationship (Lichens) and very few plants as insectivores (pitcher plant). E.g, bread moulds, mushrooms etc.

Plants are also classified into flowering plants and non-flowerings plants. Most of the plants that grow from seeds are grouped under flowering plants and are also known as angiosperms (enclosed seeds). Most of the fruits, vegetables and nuts that we eat are obtained from flowering plants. 

Unlike angiosperms, other plants have seeds that are not enclosed in a covering. These are called gymnosperms and these plants do not have flowers. E.g. coniferous trees, pines etc.

Angiosperms and gymnosperms propagate through sexual reproduction while other plants which do not bear fruits / seeds but flower, propagate through asexual reproduction or propagate through their vegetative parts which is known as vegetative propagation.

Basing on their size, plants are also classified into herbs, shrubs and trees.

What are animals?

Animals are the main group of living things which form the Animal Kingdom. Animals body too is made up of tiny structural and functional fundamental units called cells. Animals cannot make their own food and hence depend on green plants for their food. Hence animals are called heterotrophs and are also called consumers. 

Basing on their food habits animals are broadly classified into 3 groups. 

Herbivores: Animals which directly depend on plants for their food are called primary consumers. These animals eat plants and plant products and are called herbivores / herbivorous animals. For e.g. cow, horse, elephant, buffalo, giraffe etc.

Carnivores: Animals which indirectly depend on plants for their food are called secondary consumers. These animals depend on other animals for their food and are called carnivores / carnivorous animals. E.g tiger, lion, eagle etc.

Omnivores: There are other animals like bear, dog etc which eat both plants and animals. Hence these animals are called omnivores / omnivorous animals.

Basing on the presence of backbone (vertebral column), animals are divided into two categories viz vertebrates and invertebrates.

Vertebrates: Animals like dog, rat, lion, snake, fish, man etc which have a backbone are called vertebrates.

Invertebrates: Animals like worms, spiders, bees etc do not have a back bone are called invertebrates.