scute n : large bony or horny plate as on an armadillo or turtle
- A horny, chitinous, or bony external plate or scale, as on the shell of a turtle or the skin of crocodiles.
A scute or scutum (Latin scutum, plural: scuta "shield") is a horny, chitinous, or bony external plate or scale, as on the shell of a turtle, the skin of crocodiles, or the feet of some birds. They are similar to scales, but unlike the scales of fish, they are derived from the epidermis. The term is also used to describe the scales of some armored mammals, such as the armadillo and the extinct glyptodon, and is occasionally used as an alternative to scales in describing snakes or certain fishes, such as sturgeons.
The turtle's scutes in the carapace are the nuchal scute, neural or vertebral or central scute, marginal scute, and pygal or supracaudal scute. Those in the plastron are the epiplastron, entoplastron, hyoplastron, and hypoplastron.
Scutes are also a type of osteoderm.
The term "scutum" is also used in insect anatomy, as an alternative name for the anterior portion of the mesonotum (and, technically, the metanotum, though rarely applied in that context).