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Image that says Diversity. Image that says: Earth is home to many creatures with some strange and diverse features.  Yet many critters look the same, so why give them a different name?  Because we must identify each kind of life, we classify the many forms where they are found- in air, or sea, or on the ground.

Image of a starfish.Earth abounds with many, many different kinds of living things: butterflies, mushrooms, starfish, eagles, sharks, redwood trees, caterpillars, ferns, amoebas, seaweed, lions, and tigers, and bears ("Oh my!"). The list goes on and on. Nearly one and a half million different species* of living things are known, and millions more are yet to be discovered in the depths of Earth's oceans and forests. Photo 2000-www.arttoday.com

Scientists use the words "diversity," or "biodiversity," to describe different aspects of the variety of life forms all around us. Species diversity describes the number of different species in a region or in the world. Genetic diversity describes the differences within a single species. Classification is the method we use to keep track of all the different kinds of living things and how they are related to each other.

Image of a DNA strand.All the species on Earth look and behave very differently, yet all of them are related. The mold growing on your bread, the trees growing on your street, the insects buzzing about in your room, the pets sleeping by your bed, and you, yourself, are all members of a single type of life that descended from the same source. The evidence for this conclusion is provided by the fact that all living things share the following properties. All life on Earth is made of single cells or groups of cooperating cells. All life on Earth uses the same biochemicals to construct cell parts and to store and use energy. All life on Earth uses the same chemical "language" and chemical structure (DNA) to store and pass on genetic information. Thus, there is a unity underlying all the rich diversity of life on Earth. DNA image 2000-www.arttoday.com

*A species is a group of individual living organisms able to interbreed with each other and produce fertile offspring.

 


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Image of a star. Diversity
  Species Diversity
  Genetic Diversity
 

Classification

 

 
             
     
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Diversity | Species Diversity | Genetic Diversity | Classification

Diversity | Adaptation | Plate Tectonics | Cycles | Spheres | Biomes | Geologic Time

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Last updated on
April 28, 2005

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