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ARTICLE

Characteristics of living things

When you look at the world around you, how do you categorise or group what you see? One of the broadest groupings is 'living' and 'non-living'. This may sound simple, but it is sometimes ...

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Classification system

In the 18th century, Carl Linnaeus published a system for classifying living things, which has been developed into the modern classification system. People have always given names to things that ...

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Seed dispersal

Plants make seeds that can grow into new plants, but if the seeds just fall to the ground under the parent plant, they might not get enough sun, water or nutrients from the soil. Because plants ...

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Pollination and fertilisation

Sexual reproduction is a way of making a new individual by joining two special sex cells, called gametes. In the sexual reproduction of animals and plants, the male and female gametes join to ...

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Flowering plant life cycles

The flowers and fruit of flowering plants come and go as part of their life cycle. Some flowering plants don’t even have stems and leaves all the time. The fruit and vegetables we eat come from ...

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Plant reproduction without seeds

Not every plant grows from a seed. Some plants, like ferns and mosses, grow from spores. Other plants use asexual vegetative reproduction and grow new plants from rhizomes or tubers. We can also ...

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Attracting pollinators

Flowering plants need to get pollen from one flower to another, either within a plant for self-pollination or between plants of the same species for cross-pollination to occur. However, pollen ...

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Plant reproduction

Scientists divide plants into two main groups depending on whether they reproduce by seeds or spores. Plants that reproduce by seeds Seed plants have special structures on them where male and ...

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Poisonous animals in New Zealand

New Zealand has a very small number of poisonous animals. These animals are also called ‘venomous’ as their toxins (venoms) need to be injected by a bite (for example, spiders) or sting (for ...

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Poisons and toxins

Poisons are substances that cause harm to organisms when sufficient quantities are absorbed, inhaled or ingested. A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms ...

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Toxins and food webs

All living things depend on one another to live. Animals eat plants and/or animals to survive. Food webs describe the feeding connections between organisms in an ecosystem. The three main groups ...

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Classifying and identifying ferns

Scientists currently consider that New Zealand has approximately 230 species of fern in about 50 different genera. They are widely distributed throughout the country, including around 42 species ...

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What is a fern?

There are ferns in most New Zealanders’ backyards and local environments. Ferns are green flowerless plants with divided leaves that tend to grow in damp, shady areas. The developing leaves of ...

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ACTIVITY

Living or non-living?

In this activity, students use an interactive or paper-based graphic organiser to explore their ideas about the characteristics of living things and the characteristics of animals. This activity ...

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Measuring toxicity

Toxicity can be measured by the effect the substance has on an organism, a tissue or a cell. We know that individuals will respond differently to the same dose of a substance because of a number ...

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Monarch butterflies

New Zealand’s most identifiable butterfly is the monarch (Danaus plexippus). Although found in many places around the world, the monarch is considered a New Zealand native because it became ...

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Breeding a new apple cultivar

Breeding a new apple cultivar takes a long time and involves many steps. The aim is to produce high-quality fruit that consumers will like and want to buy. Breeding apples to increase quality The ...

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Charles Darwin and earthworms

Charles Darwin is best known for his theory of evolution as set out in his book On the Origin of Species. He was a naturalist – an expert in geology, botany and biology – whose interest in all ...

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