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Are viruses actual living creatures ?

Posted on Sunday, 17 March, 2013 | Comment icon 22 comments | News tip by: Still Waters


Image credit: sxc.hu

 
A newly discovered virus has reignited the debate over the classification of viruses as living creatures.

In order to qualify as a "living creature" the organism must have a genome, be able to grow, replicate and to evolve by adapting to its environment over successive generations. Viruses are generally considered to be primitive particles of DNA and do not meet these criteria, but new research in to a virus that can steal its host's immune system has turned this idea on its head.

Humans and other living creatures possess an adaptive immune system, capable of developing defenses and passing these down to successive generations of cells. The discovery of such a system present in a virus has greyed the area between "biological entity" and "living creature" and is likely to fuel further debate on the subject for years to come.

"For a long time, scientists have deemed viruses, which are little packages of infective material that can only replicate inside living organisms, to be primitive particles of DNA and RNA, termed a “biological entity."

  View: Full article

 Source: Discover Magazine


  Discuss: View comments (22)

   


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #13 Posted by FlyingAngel on 18 March, 2013, 18:31
So, one could argue that a human is the evolved sum of individual life forms working in near harmony. As when all humans and countries drop their weapons and start to shake hands, the Earth will be a harmonic living creature.
Comment icon #14 Posted by .Betta on 19 March, 2013, 4:55
Of course viruses are living things lol
Comment icon #15 Posted by Chooky88 on 19 March, 2013, 10:00
I had this argument with my Biology teacher in 1984. It's alive because it reproduces and reacts to external stimuli . just because it doesn't have the qualities of other organisms such as bacteria doesn't mean we have the right to say it's not a living thing. And I'll e-slap anyone who says fire qualifies as living as it consumes oxygen, reproduces and reacts to external stimuli. Teacher said that and I almost slapped him!
Comment icon #16 Posted by The New Richard Nixon on 19 March, 2013, 10:28
Of course viruses are living things lol They are concdiered to be neither living nor dead
Comment icon #17 Posted by EllJay on 19 March, 2013, 10:47
Research published last week in Nature appears to add another point to the controversial argument that viruses might be living creatures. Can they be reasoned with? Call for truce and offer a bribe?
Comment icon #18 Posted by J. K. on 19 March, 2013, 16:09
I had this argument with my Biology teacher in 1984. It's alive because it reproduces and reacts to external stimuli . just because it doesn't have the qualities of other organisms such as bacteria doesn't mean we have the right to say it's not a living thing. And I'll e-slap anyone who says fire qualifies as living as it consumes oxygen, reproduces and reacts to external stimuli. Teacher said that and I almost slapped him! When I was five years old, I was convinced that fire was alive. Two houses in my neighborhood burned down, and I just knew that it was after me next.
Comment icon #19 Posted by third_eye on 19 March, 2013, 19:00
they are uncomfortable calling 'virus' "Living Creatures" because that would make "Viruses" Immortal they feel more comfort with viruses not living so viruses not dying doesn't matter
Comment icon #20 Posted by DieChecker on 19 March, 2013, 19:44
They are concdiered to be neither living nor dead Undead?
Comment icon #21 Posted by The Skater Boy on 19 March, 2013, 19:45
Of course they are. To suggest they're not is as ludicrous as scientists claiming animals have no emotions or personalities like we do.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Sundew on 21 March, 2013, 17:45
Living or not, to be or not to be? Many parisites are simple compared with their free-living relatives. Worms that live in the gut may not posess a digestive system, absorbing nutrients by osmosis as it were. While similar species that live in water or soil have a fully functional digestive system. So the question my be: are viruses degenerate organisms reduced to such a simple state that the require a living cell to reproduce? Perhaps they were once more complex, akin to bacteria or other simple life, but over time only parasitic forms survived. These are very complex little bundles of DNA an... [More]


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