Biology is the study of living things, such as animals, plants, and micro-organisms, and their vital processes.
All living things are composed of cells. A cell is the very smallest unit of living matter. For example, our brain is made up of billions of brain cells or neurons.
Human cells are like most animal cells. They contain a nucleus, cytoplasm, membrane, mitochondria, and ribosomes.
All cells are divided into two types: prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Prokaryotic cells are those that do not have a nucleus. They are much smaller and simpler than eukaryotic cells. Bacteria and archaea are both prokaryotes. Bacteria come in different shapes and sizes (spheres, rod shaped, and spirals). Bacteria can be found in soil, lakes, rivers, oceans, acidic hot springs and radioactive waste.
Eukaryotic cells have a true nucleus, which means the cell’s DNA is surrounded by a membrane. They are much larger and more complex than prokaryotic cells. Animals, plants, and fungi (yeast and mushrooms) are all eukaryotic organisms. Mitosis is the process by which the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell divides. The genetic material of eukaryotes is located in the nucleus and organized into chromosomes. A chromosome is made of DNA wrapped around proteins and contains all the genetic information for the organism.
DNA is an essential molecule for life. It contains all the genetic instructions that an organism needs in order to live, grow, develop, and reproduce.
We are going to explore a microbiology laboratory called Biogenesis. It simulates the processes involved in the evolution of unicellular organisms in nature. The organisms that will populate this world are formed by segments of different colors and lengths. These segments establish the organism’s properties and are a representation of its genetic code. Their descendants will inherit them with the exception of random mutations that can happen in each generation.
Organisms that obtain beneficial mutations will be the most successful ones, from the reproductive point of view, and as a consequence, they will create a large number of descendants that will propagate their genes and mutations in the future. However, those organisms that suffer from a less appropriate mutation will not take a long time to die.
You can create new beings with a new or modified genetic code, too: World, Genetic Laboratory.
To find out more information about this topic, read our ebooks Extraordinary animals, A very bad day!, How many legs do I have?, Plants, Endangered species. The Game of Life is “a cellular automaton devised by John Horton Conway in 1970. It is a zero-player game, meaning that its evolution is determined by its initial state, requiring no further input. One interacts with the Game of Life by creating an initial configuration and observing how it evolves,” Consway’s Game of Life, Wikipedia entry.
Read our article Game of Life and Automatons to learn how to code it in Python.
Sheppard Software, Animals for Kids is a site with hundreds of educational games, information, quizzes, and more.
CELLS alive! provides information, activities, and animations about cell biology, microbiology, genetics, immunology, etc.
Switch Zoo lets you make animals, build habitats, play animal games, learn about animals, and much more.
Bugguide is a buzzing “community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures. We enjoy the opportunity to instill in others the fascination and appreciation that we share for the intricate lives of these oft-maligned creatures.”