N: 1. The object was first described by Gómez-Gálvez et al. in a paper entitled Scutoids are a geometrical solution to three-dimensional packing of epithelia, and published in July 2018. Officially, the name scutoid was coined because of its resemblance to the shape of the scutum and scutellum in some insects, such as beetles in the subfamily Cetoniinae. Unofficially, Clara Grima has stated that while working on the project, the shape was temporarily called an Escu-toid as a joke after the biology group leader Luis M. Escudero. Since his last name, “Escudero”, means “squire” (from Latin scūtārius = shield-bearer), the temporary name was modified slightly to become “scutoid”.
2. A scutoid is a geometric solid between two parallel surfaces. The boundary of each of the surfaces (and of all the other parallel surfaces between them) is a polygon, and the vertices of the two end polygons are joined by either a curve or a Y-shaped connection.
3. We’ve got circles, squares, triangles and all the ‘gons — but, Spanish scientists say we’re missing one: the scutoid.
Researchers from the University of Seville found these “twisted prisms” in nature, more specifically within the cells that make up skin and line many organs. Scutoids are the true shape of epithelial cells that protect organisms against infections and take in nutrients, they say.
4. These “blocks” were previously represented as prism-shaped, but research published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications suggests they have a specific curve and look unlike any other known shape. The researchers observed the structure in fruitflies and zebrafish.
The scutoid is six-sided at the top, five-sided on the bottom with one triangular side. Why it has been so complex to define is because epithelial cells must move and join together to organize themselves “and give the organs their final shape,” University of Seville Biology faculty teacher Luisma Escudero said in a release.
The researchers named the shape after a similar design in the thorax of some beetles.
Next, the researchers plan to examine the molecules that cause the shape.