Living things – Distinguishing features in animals in plants


All living things come from other living things. Some come into the world right out of their mothers’ bodies; others hatch from an egg. They look more and more like their parents as they grow.

Therefore, living things can grow, move, breathe, and reproduce. Anything that cannot grow, move, breathe and reproduce are called nonliving things.

Living things can grow, move, breathe and reproduce.

Living things are also sensitive to the environment. They eat and produce waste. The waste is also called excretion. However, plants and trees are also living; because they need air, water, and nutrients to live.

Discussion question:

Why do you think we need to know if something is living or nonliving?

Living Thing Adapt

In the animal kingdom, the cocoa tree and the monkey are different.

Cocoa trees grow from a seed planted in the ground. Its roots gets water from the ground. A cocoa tree does not move around like the monkey. The monkey is born and can move around. It eats food that are grown from trees.

All living things adapt to their environment to survive. An organism adapts when it develops a behavour or structural (the organism form a physical characteristic or body part) that helps it survive. Adaptation is the result of evolution that occurs over a long period of time.

Animals have special features, or adaptations, to help them find: food, shelter and protection.

The boar and the fox are animals. Animals have specific features (limbs, head, ears, eyes). Some features can help protect an animal from their prey.
The skunk’s horrible smell prevents other animals from wanting to eat it.

Plants have special features or adaptations, to help them survive.

A butterfly is an animal. It can move around and absorb nutrients from the food it eat. Plants do not move around – they are rooted in one place. Plants get their food through the process of photosynthesis (they convert the sunlight into the energy they need). Plants have specific features (size, shape, bark, leaf, flower, and colour).
In a forest, some trees grow taller to reach the sunlight. Growing taller is an adaptation that helps trees survive. Shorter plants have adapted with their behaviour; they have learned to live in the shade with less sunlight.
Plants like the rose have dangerous thorns to prevent animals from eating their leaves.

Plants and animals have a cellular structure, a DNA that is passed on from one generation to another. However, a particular DNA structure could change to help an animal adapt to the environment.

The limbs of birds have modified into wings for flying. However, an ostrich, the biggest bird, have long, strong legs that helps them run fast and kicks hard. Ostrich are made for running, not flying. Their wings are used to help keep them warm.
A cheetah is built to run fast, up to 70 miles per hour, and capable of accelerating from 0 to 50 miles per hour. Their bodies are unlike other cats: their muzzle is smaller, their jaws are weaker, and their canine teeth is smaller.
However, the cheetah has longer and leaner legs than other cats. They have special adaptations (respiratory system and circulatory system) that helps them run fast.
The gills that a fish has enables them to breathe in water.

Adaptation also helps protect animals from predators or harsh climates.

Camels have physical and behavioural adaptive traits that protect them from the harsh climate of the desert and others animals.

Camels have: wide feet for walking on the sand; their eyelashes keep sand away from their eyes; large intestines; and a hump that breaks down to supply their body with needed energy. Camels are ruminants; and so they chew their cud and spit to keep threats away. Other animals like llamas, alpacas, and vicunas have similar adaptive traits. They belong to the group called ‘camelids‘.

Camouflage is another trait that helps animals adapt and survive in the environment. Camouflage helps animals hide from predators and prey species.

A twig mantis hides in its environment because it resembles something else. Can you guess what this mantis looks like?
Arctic Fox Lying on Snow Northwest Territories, Canada. Camouflage helps this fox hide in the snow.
The least weasel adapts to the environment by changing its coat from brown to white when it is winter.
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Plants also can adapt to certain environments. This is why some plants can only exist in certain environments.

The cactus is suited for the extreme desert climate.

The cactus plant can store water within its stems. The cactus is able to this by its fibrous roots which allows the plant to collect water from a large area.


Animals, as well as human beings, have five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and hear. Plants have senses too; they can sense the world around them.

A plant can sense light, their main source of energy. Plants then slowly lean towards sunlight. When the sun sets, most plants closes their pores to prevent moisture loss during the night.

Now some plants and animals blur their differences; making it difficult to distinguish if “it” is a plant or an animal.

Colourful coral reefs look like underwater gardens. They are considered plants because they are immobile; however, they are animals because they gather their own food;
A venus flytrap looks like a plant, but it is really and animal. They have “mouths” that trap insects within for food.
Though a Sea anemones looks like plants, they are really animals. They can slowly move over short distances.

picture sources


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