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Biology: 1. Living Things
Please remember to photocopy 4 pages onto one sheet by going A3→A4 and using back to back on the photocopier Syllabus
OB38 Understand how to use a simple key to identify plants and animals, including vertebrates and invertebrates

OB39 Investigate the variety of living things by direct observation of animals and plants in their environment; classify living organisms as plants or animals, and animals as vertebrates or invertebrates

OB40 Identify the basic life processes and characteristics common to all living organisms: nutrition, respiration, excretion, growth, reproduction, movement and response

OB41 Recall that living things are composed of cells, tissues, organs and systems, and understand that growth results from cell division

Biology is the study of living things (called organisms)
Biology is the study of living things (called organisms)
Student Notes

The living things which we are most familiar with are plants and animals.

Plants| Animals|
Make their own food| Do not make their own food|
Do not move from place to place| Move from place to place| Have cell walls| Do not have cell walls|

Animals can then be sorted into two groups:
1. Vertebrates = Animals that have a backbone. (Mammal, fish, bird, reptile, amphibian). 2. Invertebrates = Animals that do not have a backbone. (Spiders, worms, jellyfish, anemones, etc).

Biology Keys
A key in Biology is a set of instructions which help us to identify or classify an organism. The key on the right helps us to identify classify different types of vertebrates. Can you identify where humans fit into this map?

Basic life processes and characteristics common to all living organisms All living things have 7 life processes or characteristics in common. These are:

1. Growth
All living things can grow/increase in size.
This happens through cell division where cells have the ability to make copies of themselves. 2. Movement
All living things can move. Animals can walk, fly etc, plants move their parts. 3. Nutrition
All living things must be able to take in material from their environment such as food, which is needed to produce energy. 4. Respiration
All organisms must extract energy from the food that they consume. Aerobic respiration uses oxygen to obtain energy from food. 5. Excretion
Getting rid of waste products from chemical reactions in the body. 6. Response
Reacting to a stimuli or changes in the environment.
7. Reproduction
The formation of new individuals.
Organisms must be able to reproduce themselves or their species will become extinct.

Cells, Tissues, Organs and Systems

All organisms are composed of cells which form tissues which form organs which in turn form systems. All organisms are composed of cells which form tissues which form organs which in turn form systems.


Cells are the main building blocks of life, e.g. blood cells and skin cells. (We will look at them in detail in the next chapter).

A tissue is made up of a group of similar cells which carry out the same function, e.g. skin tissue and muscle tissue.

An organ is made up of different types of tissue working together, e.g. the heart and the lung.

A system is formed by a group of organs working together, e.g. the reproductive system and the digestive system.

“It’s extraordinary that so much time is spent educating people about birth and sex, but so little about this equally profound thing [death] that happens to everyone. Paul Murray (Irish Hospice Foundation)

Exam Questions

1. [2011][2009 OL][2007 OL]
Name one invertebrate animal and one vertebrate animal

2. [2009 OL]
36 – 370 C86 – 870 C|
(i) Choose the correct temperature range of human body temperature from the list on the right. (ii) Give one reason for a change in body temperature.

3. [2008 OL]
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