Eutils confusion

Here’s something that I don’t quite understand. If I have an NCBI UID, but I’ve confused a UID from one Entrez database with another, a search at NCBI will tell me my error. For instance if I try to search the protein database using UID 54123, I get a message:

See Details. No items found.
The following term(s) refer to a different DB:54123

Telling me that my UID belongs to the Core Nucleotide database.

However, if I construct an Eutils efetch URL like so:

http://eutils.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/eutils/efetch.fcgi?db=protein
&id=54123
&rettype=fasta

My browser happily returns the fasta file from the nucleotide database, despite the “db=protein” in the query string.

It seems that Eutils automatically redirects the query so as the UID matches the correct database. Is this a new behaviour? I’m sure that in the past an error would have been returned – which would be the appropriate behaviour.

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