This slide shows a cross section of the esophagus (the first portion of the alimentary canal), which is lined with stratified squamous epithelium. By convention, stratified epithelial tissues are named by the shape of their outer most cell layers (i.e. squamous, cuboidal or columnar). In stratified squamous epithelium, the outer most layer is comprised of scale like or flattened cells that serve to protect the underlying tissues in areas subject to abrasion. Although the surface cells are squamous, note that the deeper or basal layers are composed of cuboidal and columnar cells. These basal layers are mitotically active and produce the cells of the more superficial layers.