Characteristics of Living Things

Living things share 8 characteristics (listed in Chapter 1 of your textbook on page 19). A living thing grows, undergoes metabolism, responds to its environment, reproduces, passes DNA to the next generation, maintains homeostasis, changes over time, and is made up of cells. A non-living thing may seem to do one or more of these things, but to be classified as living; all eight characteristics must be present. Sometimes, you may see something that seems alive but is not. Though you can’t see it, you have likely experienced it; one of those things is a virus.

Answer BOTH of the following questions:

  1. Using all 8 of the characteristics that define life, indicate which one(s) viruses have and which one(s) they do not, and explain each difference.
  2. With these results, present an argument that a virus is a living thing. Then, present the opposite argument that viruses are not alive.
    You can fill out a table like this (though this is not required):
    Characteristic Virus
    (yes, no, maybe, sort of) Explanation
    Reproduce
    Pass along their traits through DNA
    Consume energy sources and expel waste products to maintain homeostasis
    Respond to their environments
    Respond to stimulus
    Change over time
    Can differ as individuals while still being part of a species
    Are made up of cells
    Review the following videos to understand what viruses are and how they work:
    • Flu Attack! How a Virus Invades Your Body
    • What is a Virus? How do Viruses Work?
    Reading these discussions may help you to form your arguments on the status of viruses:
    • Are Viruses Alive?
    • Are Viruses Alive? Although Viruses Challenge Our Concept of What “Living” Means, They Are Vital Members of the Web of Life
    Follow these guidelines for your paper:
    • Utilize at least 1 credible source to support the arguments presented in the paper. 

Sample Solution

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