At this point, it would be fair to assume that you know your shapes: Square, circle, triangle… uh, the other ones.
Of course, there are three-dimensional ones as well, and again, I’m sure you’re familiar with the basics: sphere, cube, rectangular prism, and so on. It may seem like there’s only so many directions you can go with a shape, but it turns out that we don’t actually know everything, since a brand new shape was just discovered: the scutoid (via New Scientist)!
The shape was discovered by scientists while studying epithelial cells, which make up our skin and the lining of our throats, intestines, blood vessels, and organs. A computer model predicted what shape would do the best as holding up in flat and curved layers, and what resulted is a prism-like shape that has six sides on one end, five on the other, and a triangular face on one side. The scientists then discovered that scutoid-shaped cells were found in fruit fly salivary glands and zebrafish cells, and they suspect that scutoids could be found in humans as well.
Javier Buceta, systems biologist at Lehigh University and a co-author of the research published in Nature, says about the discovery, “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. […] 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].”
As for applications of this new information, it could prove useful in the development of artificial organs, since they could provide greater structural integrity.
Is the scutoid your new favorite shape? Use your epithelial cells to let us know what you think down in the comments!
Featured image: Nature Communications