Dinosaur 13

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Dinosaur 13
Dinosaur 13 poster.jpg
Sundance Film poster
Directed byTodd Douglas Miller
Produced byTodd Douglas Miller
Music byMatt Morton
CinematographyThomas Petersen
Edited byTodd Douglas Miller
Statement Pictures
Distributed byCNN Films
Release date
  • January 16, 2014 (2014-01-16) (Sundance)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States

Dinosaur 13 is a 2014 American documentary film directed and produced by Todd Douglas Miller.[1] The film premiered in competition category of U.S. Documentary Competition program at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 16, 2014.[2][3]

After its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, CNN Films and Lionsgate acquired distribution rights of the film, leading to broadcast on CNN, theatrical release, and DVD packaging.[4][5] In 2015 Dinosaur 13 won the Emmy for Outstanding Science and Technology Programming at the 36th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards. [6]


The film depicts events that began in 1990, when American paleontologist Sue Hendrickson working with Pete Larson and his Black Hills Institute of Geological Research team discovered the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found (nicknamed "Sue") while digging in the badlands near Faith, South Dakota. The skeleton was seized from the institute by the federal government, followed by a 10-year-long battle with the FBI, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Maurice Williams, the landowner on whose property the bones were discovered. Pete Larson also spent 18 months in prison, on unrelated charges of international money laundering and trading fossils on the black market.[7][8]


The film received positive response from critics. Dennis Harvey, in his review for Variety, called the documentary "engrossing".[9] Duane Byrge of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film positive review and said that it involves a "story of scientific discovery and petty politics".[10] Eric Kohn from Indiewire in his review said that "A subset of the recent scientific-documentary-as-thriller tradition epitomized by The Cove and Blackfish, Todd Douglas Miller's Dinosaur 13 is both awe-inspiring and tragic."[11]

After the film aired, The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, a society of professional paleontologists that depend largely on government grants for research, issued a statement of full support for legally protecting fossils on public land and criticized Dinosaur 13 for implying that government ownership of fossil specimens impedes paleontological science.[12]


  1. ^ "2014 Sundance Docs in Focus: DINOSAUR 13". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Sundance Preview: 'Dinosaur 13' Poster Digs Up a T. rex (Exclusive Image)". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Sundance 2014: U.S. Documentary Competition". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Sundance 2014: 'Dinosaur 13' doc acquired by Lionsgate, CNN Films". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  5. ^ "CNN Films and Lionsgate Acquire T-Rex Documentary 'Dinosaur 13' Out of Sundance". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  6. ^ http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2015/09/29/cnn-films-and-dinosaur-13-win-news-documentary-emmy-award/
  7. ^ Browne, Malcolm W (22 February 1996). "Fossil Dealer, Target of Federal Prosecutors, Begins Jail Term". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  8. ^ "Sundance 2014: The making of 'Dinosaur 13' [Video]". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Sundance Film Review: 'Dinosaur 13'". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  10. ^ "Dinosaur 13: Sundance Review". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  11. ^ "Sundance Review: 'Dinosaur 13' Salutes the World's Greatest T-Rex Skeleton and Mourns the Fate of Its Discoverers". Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  12. ^ "SVP Official Response to Dinosaur 13". Archived from the original on 16 December 2014. Retrieved 15 December 2014.

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