PBDB Data Service 1.2 v2 > Client configuration


This operation provides information about the structure, encoding and organization of the information in the database. It is designed to enable the easy configuration of client applications.


Here are some usage examples:


The following URL parameters are accepted for this path:


The value of this parameter selects which information to return:


Return information about the levels of geographic clustering defined in this database.


Return information about the taxonomic ranks defined in this database.


Return continent names and their corresponding codes.


Return country names and the corresponding ISO-3166-1 country codes.


Return lithologies and lithology types.


Return all of the above blocks of information.

You can also use any of the special parameters with this request.


This data service accepts the following HTTP methods: GET, HEAD


The response to an HTTP request with this operation will consist of fields from the following list. The block basic is always present. The others may be selected using the parameter show.

Field nameBlockDescription
config_section cfg clusters

The configuration section: 'clu' for clusters

cluster_level lvl clusters

Cluster level, starting at 1

degrees deg clusters

The width and height of the area represented by each cluster, in degrees. Each level of clustering is aligned so that 0 lat and 0 lng fall on cluster boundaries, and the cluster width/height must evenly divide 90.

count cnt clusters

The approximate number of summary clusters at this level.

max_colls mco clusters

The maximum nmber of collections in any cluster at this level (can be used for scaling cluster indicators)

max_occs moc clusters

The maximum number of occurrences in any cluster at this level (can be used for scaling cluster indicators)

config_section cfg ranks

The configuration section: 'trn' for taxonomic ranks

taxonomic_rank rnk ranks

Taxonomic rank

rank_code cod ranks

Numeric code representing this rank in responses using the 'com' vocabulary, which is the default for json format

config_section cfg continents

The configuration section: 'con' for continents

continent_name nam continents

Continent name

continent_code cod continents

The code used to indicate this continent when selecting fossil occurrences by continent

config_section cfg countries

The configuration section: 'cnt' for countries

country_name nam countries

Country name

country_code cod countries

The code used to indicate this continent when selecting fossil occurrences by country. These are the standard ISO-3166-1 country codes.

continent con countries

The code for the continent on which this country is located

config_section cfg lithologies
lithology lth lithologies
lith_type ltp lithologies


The following response formats are available for this operation. You must select the desired format for a request by adding the appropriate suffix to the URI path.

JSON .json

JSON format

Comma-separated text .txt

Text formats

Comma-separated text .csv

Text formats

Tab-separated text .tsv

Text formats


The following response vocabularies are available for this operation. If you wish your responses to be expressed in a vocabulary other than the default for your selected format, you can use the vocab parameter with the appropriate vocabulary name.

VocabularyNameDefault forDescription
PaleobioDB field names pbdb txt, csv, tsv

The PBDB vocabulary is derived from the underlying field names and values in the database, augmented by a few new fields. For the most part any response that uses this vocabulary will be directly comparable to downloads from the PBDB Classic interface. This vocabulary is the default for text format responses.

Compact field names com json

The Compact vocabulary is a set of 3-character field names designed to minimize the size of the response message. This is the default for JSON format responses. Some of the field values are similarly abbreviated, while others are conveyed in their entirety. For details, see the documentation for the individual response fields.


This service is provided by the Paleobiology Database, hosted by the Department of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

If you have questions about this data service, or wish to report a bug, please contact the database administrator at admin@paleobiodb.org