Carbon is the 15th most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. It is present in all forms of carbon-based life, and in the human body carbon is the second most abundant element by mass (about 18.5%) after oxygen. This abundance, together with the unique diversity of organic compounds and their unusual polymer-forming ability at the temperatures commonly encountered on Earth, make this element the chemical basis of all known life.
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