I'm looking for a downloadable list of all known (or better said, online documented) species in this straightforward format, as an example the European Frog:

Kingdom: Animalia
Division: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Ranidae
Genus: Rana
Species: Rana temporaria

I'd like to have this list offline in a structured text or database format that I can parse. If such a list has other useful attributes (credits, distribution, common names), it is welcome, but the above is the absolute minimum I need. I know there are more taxonomy levels in the above system (Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: April 2013 ), but I only need these basic 6.

I have been looking at several collections and am having difficulty getting the data that I need. Either the database is incomplete, not accessible as a database, has complicated data structures, or has poorly described and slow web APIs that I cannot rely on.

Conceptually, it seems to me that http://www.catalogueoflife.org comes closest to my needs, yet their download is a tool, not a database. I do see the download has a MySQL folder containing lots of files, but I don't know how to reconstruct it into a database. It seems also that they pulled the page to describe the database download.

As simple as my question seems (I'm not a biologist, so I assumed it was simple), I have wasted several hours coming up empty. I was wondering if anybody has done the work to provide basic species info in an understandable format as requested?

As for species completeness, the 1.3m of Catalogue of Life sounds really good, as I'm currently basing my system on Wikipedia, which only has 180k species.

  • $\begingroup$ you might want to have a look to www.tolweb.org $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Dec 19 '13 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ Have you ever found what you needed? $\endgroup$ – Rodrigo Feb 11 '17 at 4:53
  • $\begingroup$ Extant only, or all known life? because xtinct life tends to mess with that form of classification, which is why it is included less. . $\endgroup$ – John Feb 11 '17 at 5:28
  • $\begingroup$ you have another issue as well, taxonomic classification is less helpful for cross group comparison (some classes for instance are inside other classes) so many larger "tree of life" projects tend toward phylogenetic classification instead, it makes for clearer coding. $\endgroup$ – John Feb 11 '17 at 5:54

Have you tried NCBI? Try this link:


  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, but there's several problems with this answer. It's a different classification, it only has 10% of species, and as far as I can see, there is no database. $\endgroup$ – Ferdy Dec 19 '13 at 0:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Ferdy: yes there is ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/guide/taxonomy $\endgroup$ – nico Dec 19 '13 at 14:02

I suspect you will struggle to find what you are looking for. However, you could break down your search criteria into smaller chunks to come up with some more successful (but still incomplete) results. For example, species of what? Do you really want ALL species (e.g. Bacteria, Archaea, Eukaryota)? Do you want just species that are currently alive (extant) or all species that are know to have existed at some point? Do you want sub-species?

Once you have decided on such things, you may be better off searching for individual country databases. If you do decide you want ALL species, I suggest you break down each search into smaller chunks - such as 'mammalia'.

  • $\begingroup$ He actually don't need to do that. There are a few options to download a full database, as you can see in the other answers. $\endgroup$ – Rodrigo Feb 11 '17 at 13:59

try this one as well:


the document with the taxonomy is the taxa.txt document


Have you tried ITIS?


I once used their database. It was in MS Access format.

EDIT: Now they updated their site, and you may download PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite, among other formats: https://www.itis.gov/downloads/


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