In anatomy, a squamous is an epithelium whose most superficial layer consists of flat, scale-like cells called squamous epithelial cells. The epithelium may be composed of one layer of these cells, in which case it is referred to as simple squamous epithelium, or it may possess multiple layers, referred to then as stratified squamous epithelium.
Squamous epithelial cells have a polygonal appearance when viewed from above. Squamous epithelial tissue turns over every few weeks. The cells of the basal reserve only divide while replacing cells directly above. The cells that are produced by the basal layer are called parabasal transit amplifying (TA) cells. The TA cells have 'committed' to differentiation, and will not revert to basal reserve cells. These TA cells divide daily for up to 80 cell divisions and then they discontinue differentiation. Each time a TA cell divides, it does so in an asymmetrical fashion, with one daughter cell remaining in the TA layer while the other migrates upward, leaving the cell cycle. This final differentiation results in the formation of spinous cells. Spinous cells make up the thickest layer of epithelial tissues. In the case of cutaneous skin, the spinous cells develop into granulocytes. These then become superficial cells, programmed for death, and are sloughed off as cornified envelopes. (See keratinocytes.)