What is A Scutoid and How Does it Affect You?

Scientists are always making remarkable discoveries, but it is not that often these discoveries are already a part of our everyday lives; literally. And its also not every day that geometrical shapes are such an interesting topic, but this is not one of those days.

The discovery scientists have made is a new geometric shape.  Or rather, scientists have identified a geometric shape—which they are calling the “scutoid”—as the shape of epithelial cells. More plainly, scientists say this is the shape of the cells that line the inside and outside of your body.

Essentially, scientists discovered the shape while closely studying epithelial cells.  The most prevalently observed epithelial cells line the human throat, organs, and blood vessels; they also make up most of our skin cells.  Using a computer to model human biological development, a program predicted which shape would best perform in both flat and curved layers; the result was actually a prism-like shape with six sides on one end but five on the other end, as well as a triangular face on one of the sides. Apparently, scutoid-shaped cells have been identified in fruit fly salivary glands and the cells of zebrafish, but scientists argue that they could very well be found in humans, too.

According to Lehigh University systems biologist Javier Buceta, “We believe that this is a major breakthrough in many ways. We are convinced that there are more implications that we are trying to understand as we speak.”

A co-author of the research—which has been published in the journal Nature—goes on to say, “You normally don’t have the opportunity in your life to name something that will hopefully be there forever. It’s not going to be the circle or the square, but we have been able to name a new shape [never before seen in nature].”

More specifically, scientists explain that organisms begin with either flat or curved cells. As this organism grows it becomes more complex and these epithelial cells will join together, making them more stable.  In a press release announcing this wondrous discovery, University of Seville faculty member Luisma Escudero confides, “The epithelial cells are the ‘construction blocks’ with which an organism is formed.  They are like pieces of Tente or Lego from which animals are made.”


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