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1: The Study of Life

  • Page ID
    103496
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    • 1.1: Introduction
      The first forms of life on Earth are thought to have been microorganisms that existed for billions of years in the ocean before plants and animals appeared. The mammals, birds, and flowers so familiar to us are all relatively recent, originating 130 to 200 million years ago. Humans have inhabited this planet for only the last 2.5 million years, and only in the last 200,000 years have humans started looking like we do today.
    • 1.2: The Science of Biology
      In simple terms, biology is the study of living organisms and their interactions with one another and their environments. This is a very broad definition because the scope of biology is vast. Biologists may study anything from the microscopic or submicroscopic view of a cell to ecosystems and the whole living planet.
    • 1.3: Themes and Concepts of Biology
      From its earliest beginnings, biology has wrestled with three questions: What are the shared properties that make something “alive”? And once we know something is alive, how do we find meaningful levels of organization in its structure? And, finally, when faced with the remarkable diversity of life, how do we organize the different kinds of organisms so that we can better understand them? As new organisms are discovered every day, biologists continue to seek answers to these and other questions.
    • 1.4: Chapter Summary

    Thumbnail: A cluster of Escherichia coli bacteria magnified 10,000 times. (Public Domain; Eric Erbe, digital colorization by Christopher Pooley, both of USDA, ARS, EMU).


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