Welcome to the Sixth Generation of the NCMNS API, Project Mysticeti.

Overview and Goals

The NCMNS API Platform is a multi-functional data publishing platform. The overarching goal of the platform is to provide a blueprint for the construction of RESTful APIs to support scientific research, primarily in the fields of biodiversity informatics, biodiversity, geology, and paleontology. Currently, development is focused on the standardization of JSON response bodies for biodiversity datasets and museum biological, geological, and paleontological digital collections. Datasets with formal citations are reliable, production-ready sources of information. However, unless otherwise noted, request and response structures are subject to change to support the goals of the platform. They should not be considered sufficiently stable for long-term use in environments that depend upon consistent response bodies.


The NCMNS API has many features to explore. Here are a few of the most prominent:

  1. API Documentation using the OpenAPI Specification
  2. Standardized Response Schemas for Data Products
  3. API Architecture partitioned into three top-level functional and contextual distinctive resource classes, Data Products, Services, and Vocabularies
  4. Cloud-support advanced search functionality using Algolia
  5. Modern back-end application using the MVC Framework, Laravel, and the MVVM JavaScript Framework, Vue.js, with both MySQL and PostgreSQL (PostGIS) Databases.
  6. Multiple openly available tools and services to support existing workflows and projects
  7. A front-end interface divided into five sections: 1) searches, 2) maps, 3) data visualizations, 4) documentation, and 5) services and tools.

New Generation

This platform supersedes the previous version (4th Generation) at https://api.naturalsciences.org. Legacy API endpoints at https://api.naturalsciences.org will remain active for the near-term future as this platform continues to evolve. New users should avoid those endpoints.

Response Body Standardization

The public GitHub repository, NCMuseumNaturalSciences/ncmns-api-response-schemas for standardized response schemas is currently being updated with sixth generation formats.

Future Plans

We have big plans for this platform. Here are a few slated for release in 2022.

  1. Expansion of geospatial tools to support existing applications and workflows
  2. Provide service-based, dynamic controlled vocabularies to support the digitization of biological, geological, and paleontological collections
  3. Develop standardized JSON response bodies for service-based APIs.
  4. New data product types, including Ecological Traits, Atmospheric Measurements, and Computer Vision models.

Questions, Comments, or Concerns

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding any aspect of the platform, please contact Ben Norton, Head of Technology and Collections Data Curator at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, by email at ben.norton@naturalsciences.org.

Closing Note

This platform is a work in-progress. Some pages/features may not operate as expected. The published data is reliable and high-quality (unless explicitly noted otherwise), but the structure, design, and documentation are works in progress.

Last Updated: January 24th, 2022