Humans Are Scutoid: A Brand New Shape Explained

A breakthrough discovery has been made by researchers on a brand-new shape named as Scutoids. Until last week, the medical as well as geometrical science was unaware of such a shape. It’s neither a cube nor a sphere but does resemble to them at some extent. While studying epithelial cells, researcher came up with a discovery of scutiod cells which build blocks of embryos that further form the linings of various organs, even of skin. The research has also explained why these cells are tightly packed, and has complex enclosed structures.

Let’s see how it looks like

Origin of life has always been a mystery to the man-kind, which further raised a query on how a single-cell turned out to be multi-celled organism. But to concern most is the shape acquired by cells while and after the division and packing process. An individual cell twists and turns in accordance to the shape of whole very efficiently. This packing challenge is a geometrical problem depending on the unknown factors which leads a cell to form designated shape. Javier Buceta, biophysicist at Lehigh University and one of the Scutoid’s discoverers briefed it as a prism with a zipper. As per reported to Nature Communications by research biologist, the cells were believed to be an almost replica of the shape of frusta, as in Roman Arch. But here, it was not the same case. The most concerning matter was to be presence of scutoids everywhere and in every living being. This scutoid shape has played crucial role in building blocks for the multi-cellular organisms. It’s sort of odd to say, but without this new shape the complex life might never have seen the light. Meanwhile, the name scutoid was coined by researchers due to its very much resemblance with the shape of scutellum in insects like beetles in the Cetoniidae sub-famiy.

Whereas, an entry at Wikipedia described the shape as a geometric solid between two parallel surfaces—‘the boundary of each surfaces is a polygon, and the vertices of the two end polygons are joined by either by a curve or a Y-shaped connection.

Discovering Scutoids

During an embryonic stage, the tissues start to form into organs by constant folding and bending. At first, scientists believed that to remain tightly packed, they have to be in bottle-shaped i.e. column-shaped. Latter with the help of advanced computer simulations, scientists came to conclusion that the new shape is more complex than they have thought. Before getting into the geometry of shape by hand, they used a computer model to predict most efficient cell shape i.e. scutoids which perfectly connects with the fellow cells in curved as well as flat layers.

Obtained computerised image was unexpectedly quite different than it was assumed before. The results were clearly indicating that the shape should be slightly similar to the prism but with a bizarre triangular surface on one of the edges. This strange new shape shows the perfect fitting of cells with each other. In order to justify this, researchers closely studied fruit fly salivary glands and Zebrafish cells through computer imaging & microscopy, and results were astonishing. These cells were indeed shaped like the predicted ones. The new shape was unknown even to the mathematics, which clarified that the shape was a new discovery itself.

Scutoids discovery will help to comprehend the fundamentals of morphogenesis, developmental biology, and also, how tissue generation and regeneration processes actually works.


-Bhushan Ghate

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