Welcome to Basic Biology!
Inspired by life - as living human beings we have an inherent sense of curiosity and affection towards the spectacular diversity of life on Earth and how it has come to be.
The study of biology incorporates everything imaginable that is related to the life on Earth - from the entire planet to tiny microscopic structures, biology covers it all.
Studying living things, called organisms, takes us all around the world, from the most productive tropical rain forests to the hostile lands of Antarctica or the deepest oceanic basins.
Let's begin our greatest adventure!
Animals are living things that they are unable to make their own food, are made from many cells, and each cell has a nucleus and many specialised structures. So scientifically put animals are heterotrophic, multicellular organisms with eukaryotic cells.
Animal species are often split into invertebrates or vertebrates which is a very broad distinction between two types of animals. Invertebrate species lack a backbone and often have their skeleton on the exterior of the body. The majority of animal species are classed as invertebrates and many you will be familiar with such as insects, jellyfish, worms and spiders. Vertebrate species are animals that do have a backbone such as humans, birds, fish and reptiles and make up the majority of large land animals.
Plants are essential to all life on Earth. They are special because they are able to make their own food by a process called photosynthesis where they take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into sugar. The sugars can then be used for energy for growth and many more functions but the plant material provides the basis of almost all food chains.
Plants include a range of different groups that can all photosynthesize but can be very different physically and genetically. Included in the plant kingdom are the flowering plants or angiosperms, the gymnosperms which are woody plants without flowers but with seed and cones, the ferns, lycophytes which are similar to ferns but only have a single vein through each leaf, the bryophytes (mosses, hornworts and liverworts), and some algae.
The environment provides living things with everything that is necessary to survive such as nutrients in the soil, water and sunlight. Around the world environments change from a range of different extremes which affects what animals and plants can survive, and leads to a huge range of different adaptations of species found in different locations. A range of environmental and climatic variables such as temperature, wind exposure, rainfall, sunlight, nutrient availability and many more make no two areas the same. Because different environments are better suited for different species this means that composition of plants, animals and all other living things like bacteria and fungi, will differ in every part of the world.
Life comes in many shapes, forms and sizes and a huge amount of the life on Earth is so small that humans can only see them with the use of a microscope. A number disciplines in of biology, such as microbiology, biochemistry and genetics, focus entirely on studying the microscopic forms of life and the complexities that allow life to exist.
The study of the microscopic world falls into two main categories, firstly the study of microscopic organisms which exist in huge masses and make up as much as 90% of the world's living activity. Microscopic organisms include all Bacteria and Archaea, a huge number of fungi, all amoeba and many species from other kingdoms.
The second branch of microscopic biology is the study of the structures and compounds that make an organism. All organisms have at least one cell and many have trillions of cells. Cells are run by thousands of chemical reactions that keep an organism alive.