Dinosaur 13 (2014)

dinosaur-131Dinosaur 13 is a compelling documentary about the discovery of the world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton and the prolonged legal battle that followed. It’s extremely interesting and at times very moving, but one can’t help but wonder if this is the whole story. The filmmakers wear their bias on their sleeve, telling the story mainly from the side of Peter Larson and the Black Hills Institute of South Dakota. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it can at times make the story feel unfinished and the documentary fall flat in a few places.

Dinosaur_13This isn’t a film for children. Unlike documentaries about dinosaurs themselves, like the highly acclaimed Walking with Dinosaurs series, this is not about learning about dinosaurs. Instead, this is the specific story of how Sue, (named for Susan Hendrickson, one of the people that helped discover it,) was found and ultimately where it ended up and why. It is filled with great emotional moments that tug at your heartstrings. You cannot help but feel for these people, having made one of the most incredible paleontological discoveries of all time, only to have it ripped from their grasp a moment later.

At least in the end, Sue, and many recreations of her fossils, gets to be seen by millions in museums and other places all over the world… Just not at the Black Hills Institute, where many believe she belongs.


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