Traits of Life Intro About Exhibits Store Links
Exploring Traits of Life

Explore the Traits of Life exhibition space using this 360° panorama.

The 360° panorama requires QuickTime. Download the free player. Need help?

View more photos of the Traits collection.

Variety is the spice of life—or is it?
Earth hosts millions of species in myriad forms—a fraction of all that have gone before—but this riotous diversity masks an underlying unity.

Woodpecker and tree, ant and elephant, bacterium and human—deep down, we’re all alike. Our methods may vary, but we all use energy and reproduce. As species, we all evolve. And we’re all made of the same ingredients—cells.

Cells connect us not just to each other but to a common ancestor. We’re all ultimately variations on an ancient recipe, passed on from generation to generation since life sputtered out of a primordial soup.

While there are many characteristics that distinguish living from inanimate matter, the exhibits in the Traits of Life collection focus on four defining features: all life is made of cells and DNA; life makes more of its own kind; life evolves over time; and life uses energy.

Web site credits

Renovation of the Traits of Life exhibit labels in 2010 was supported through the generous support of the Genentech Foundation for Biomedical Sciences.

© Exploratorium | The museum of science, art and human perception| Traits of Life|