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Evolution 2nd Edition

Evolution (2nd Edition)

Book Edition2nd Edition
Author(s)Bergstrom, Dugatkin
PublisherW. W. Norton
Section 11.1: What Is Life?
Section 11.2: The Origin and Evolution of the Building Blocks of Life
Section 11.4: The RNA World
Section 11.5: Genetic Information and Genetic Exchange

Chapter 11, Section 11.1, KEY CONCEPT QUESTION, Exercise 11.1

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The properties that distinguish a living thing from a nonliving thing are the ability to grow, respire, reproduce, the presence of genetic material [in the form of Deoxyribonucleic acid and Ribonucleic acid], and the ability to derive energy from the surroundings as well as the origination from pre-existing living things.


One of the five elements of the Earth, water too has many of the properties of a living thing. It can move at a tremendous force from the mountains to the plains, drops can accumulate to become a stream, it seems to respire as waves collect air in the form of air bubbles, which then comes on the surface and bursts, and it also seem to reproduce by dividing into smaller streams.


However, it is made up of a chemical entity H2O [oxidane]. It is classified as a nonliving thing as it lacks the ability to reproduce, to grow or to obtain energy. It also lacks any genetic material to copy itself, and it does not have a definite lifespan.

Sample Response

Water has many qualities of living things. For instance, it moves and it expands in volume. Yet, it cannot be classified as a living thing mainly because of its inability to reproduce, and its lack of genetic material.

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