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Theodore Edward (Theodor Edvard) Cantor (1809–1860) was a Danish physician, zoologist and botanist.

Born to a Danish Jewish family,[1] his mother was a sister of Nathaniel Wallich. Cantor worked for the British East India Company. He made natural history collections in Penang and Malacca.

In the scientific field of herpetology he described many new species of reptiles and amphibians.[2] Pelochelys cantorii, commonly known as Cantor's giant softshell turtle, is named in his honor.[3] He was the first Western scientist to describe the Betta fish.

He was the author of:

  • Notes respecting some Indian fishes (1839)
  • Cantor, Theodore (1842). "General Features of Chusan, with Remarks on the Fauna and Flora of That Island". The Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 9: 481.
  • Catalogue of Malayan Reptiles (1847)
  • Catalogue of Malayan fishes (1850)


  1. ^ Natural history publications arising from Theodore Cantor’s visit to Chusan, China, in 1840, Archives of Natural History 43.1 (2016): 30–40 Edinburgh University Press, I. M. TURNER, page 36
  2. ^ The Reptile Database
  3. ^ Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Cantor", p. 47).