Cells: The “Little Chambers” in Plants and Animals Help

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Aug 30, 2011

Introduction to Cells

We have already encountered cells as Level V within the Pyramid of Life. Figure 5.1 reminds us that this is the so-called “Life-line,” meaning that the cell represents the lowest living level of biological organization. Review of this figure also reveals that Level I (subatomic particles), II (atoms), III (molecules), and IV (organelles), are included within the cellular level. Cellular literally “pertains to a cell or little cell.”

The actual word, cell, in turn, comes from Latin and means “a chamber.” This terminology arises from the early observation of dead cork under the microscope. Cork is actually the lightweight outer bark of the cork oak tree. When viewed through the microscope, dead cork is shown to consist of a complex latticework of hollow chambers with stiff walls. Each dark, hollow chamber in cork bark, then, is a type of non-living cell. But in general, however, the cell is defined as a living, tiny chamber that is surrounded by a thin membrane and contains various organelles.

Cells: The “Little Chambers” in Plants and Animals

Fig. 5.1 The cell and lower levels in the Pyramid of Life.

Practice problems for these concepts can be found at: Cells: The “Little Chambers” In Plants And Animals Test

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