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Section of the human skin showing the stratified squamous epithelial surface, referred to as the epidermis. The layer of keratin here is named the stratum corneum
A stratified squamous epithelium consists of squamous (flattened) epithelial cells arranged in layers upon a basal membrane. Only one layer is in contact with the basement membrane; the other layers adhere to one another to maintain structural integrity. Although this epithelium is referred to as squamous, many cells within the layers may not be flattened; this is due to the convention of naming epithelia according to the cell type at the surface. In the deeper layers, the cells may be columnar or cuboidal.citation needed This type of epithelium is well suited to areas in the body subject to constant abrasion, as it is the thickest and layers can be sequentially sloughed off and replaced before the basement membrane is exposed. It forms the outermost layer of the skin and the inner lining of the mouth, esophagus, and vagina.citation needed