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Every minute of the day, even when
asleep, an organisms body is busy at
work. In complex animals such as
vertebrates, blood is being pumped
through blood vessels by the heart.
Air is being pushed into and out of the body by the lungs. In the organisms
intestines food is being absorbed. Nerves are sending signals from the brain
to all of the other parts of the animals body. All of these activities are
necessary to regulate the processes of an organisms body.
In order to perform all of the life activities, the work of keeping the organism
alive is divided among the different parts of its body. Each part has a specific
job to do. As each separate structure performs its specific function, it works
in harmony with all the other parts to keep the living thing healthy and alive.
The groupings of these specific structures within the organism are called
levels of organization. The levels of organization in a multicellular living
thing may include cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems.
Living things are made of different cells, which are the
building blocks of life. Just as a house is made of many
bricks, a multicellular organism is made up of many
cells. Each of the trillions of cells in a multicellular
organism carries out a specific task. Cells come in all
shapes and sizes. There are box-shaped cells, round
cells, and thin, elongated cells. Regardless of their
particular size and shape, cells work together to keep the
multicellular organism alive. Some cells that might be
found within living things include blood cells, muscle cells, and
nerve cells.
An organisms body is a masterpiece of timing
and organization. Its many cells work together
to keep a complex organism alive. To help
accomplish this task, the cells that make up an
organism are organized into tissues. A tissue is
a group of similar cells that perform the same
function. For example, muscle tissue can
contract to move different parts of the
organisms body. When you focus your eyes on

this page, you are using muscle tissue. There are 4 categories of tissues
(shown in the picture) in those categories are also tissues like bone, blood,
skin and fat.
Just as cells join together to form tissues, different types
of tissues combine to form organs. An organ is a group of
different tissues with a specific job. The heart, stomach,
and brain are familiar examples of organs that can be
found in many different organisms. Did you know that
the eye, skin, and tongue are also organs? The heart is
an example of an organ made up of four different types of
tissues. All four tissues types work together to enable the
heart to pump blood throughout the organism.



times a complicated organ like the heart is not adequate

enough to perform a series of specialized jobs within
the organism. In these cases, an organ system is
needed. An organ system is a group of organs that
work together to perform a specific job. For example,
your body can work as it does because it is made up
many organ systems such as the skeletal, muscular,
circulatory, and digestive systems. Although each
system performs a special function for the organisms
body, no one system acts alone.


Each organ system contributes to the constant teamwork that keeps the
organism alive. The different organ systems work
together and
depend on one another to maintain
homeostasis. A complex organism is composed of
cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems. The
interactions among these levels of organization enable
the organism to carry out its life processes.
So, whether it is an ant, a dog, an elephant, or a human, it should be clear
that each organism has different levels of organization, which perform
specialized jobs. However, each level is also dependent on the activities of
other levels to keep the organism alive.
Adapted from: Prentice Hall Science: Human Biology and