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Theodore Cantor (1809-1860), discoverer of the king cobra, authored major early works on the vertebrates – especially the amphibians and reptiles – of China, India, and the Malay Peninsula. He was a Danish physician and naturalist in the employ of the British East India Company based in Calcutta, and was the first naturalist to conduct a scientific, illustrated survey of the herpetofauna of a single locality anywhere in Asia. In 1840, he accompanied British troops to the Chusan Islands (today Zhoushan) along China's coastline south of Shanghai where he made extensive collections of animals and plants and, as a self-trained artist, he also drew colour illustrations of representative species from life. In doing so, he discovered and named several of China's best known species including Bufo gargarizans, Mauremys mutica, Ptyas dhumnades, Lycodon rufozonatus, Euprepiophis mandarinus, and Naja atra.
This book contains facsimile reprints of Cantor's colour-illustrated book, which is primarily herpetological, and all of his scientific papers on Chusan. His book is exceedingly rare even in major libraries today, so this reprint will be welcomed by herpetologists and other naturalists throughout the world. The 12 full-page color plates illustrate most of Cantor's new herpetological species plus a few mammals. Also included in this reprint is a new illustrated biography of Cantor by Professor Kraig Adler of Cornell University (USA) that details Cantor's herpetological publications, his field work throughout Asia, and his life and medical career.