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1. Prehistoric Planet (Apple TV+, 2022)

From Spielberg‘s Jurassic Park to the latest cutting-edge series Prehistoric Planet, dinosaur documentaries continue to feed our endless fascination with these extraordinary prehistoric beasts that ruled over the earth millions of years ago.

With ever-evolving visual effects technology, paleontological discoveries and creative formats, today‘s slate of dinosaur documentaries does an unparalleled job in bringing dinosaurs to life before our eyes while exploring their mysterious lost world.

In this guide I have compiled what I believe are the 10+ absolute best dinosaur documentaries that you should add to your watchlist. You will find insightful breakdowns and reviews of each along with where to find them online.

Let‘s rediscover the magnificent dinosaurs!

The breathtaking naturalism with which this groundbreaking 5 part documentary renders dinosaurs in their habitats puts it firmly at number one. It sets a new bar for realism using state-of-the-art VFX. The excellent background score and David Attenborough‘s narration transports you right into the Cretaceous period across landscapes from deserts to coasts to forests teeming with dinosaurs. Must watch scenes include the nail-biting night sequence of a baby dinosaur trying to escape pack-hunting predators.

This 6 part British documentary phenomenon used a combination of large-scale animatronics and CGI to portray dinosaurs with unprecedented realism for that era. It also wove clever storylines around certain dinosaurs. Who can forget the perilous journey of a herd of Diplodocuses in the second episode? Its popularity spawned an IMAX version, an arena show and a 2013 movie. The locations they chose to recreate the Mesozoic environments and the minute behavioral details make this both an educational and gripping watch.

Building upon the success of Walking with Dinosaurs while incorporating updated science and VFX, this BBC documentary took us through over 200 million years of the ‘reign of the dinosaurs‘. Standouts are the segments featuring spinosaurus – an enormous carnivore adapted for swimming and fishing as well as the massive predator giganotosaurus which possibly rivaled even T-Rex. Fun fact, Attenborough narrated the original British version while John Hurt narrated the Discovery Channel American version.

I would classify this unique documentary as a sort of dinosaur crime thriller! It documents the incredible and controversial story surrounding Sue – the most complete T-Rex fossil ever unearthed to date. We see Sue‘s discoverer Peter Larson battle escalating FBI raids and court cases over custody that derailed his career. What‘s astonishing is the 5600 pounds 90% complete T-Rex skeleton itself which we see painstakingly excavated. A stranger than fiction tale with profound insights into the high-stakes world of dinosaur hunting and the battles over precious fossil ownership rights.

This two part series deserves a spot for its novel docudrama approach. Through dramatized storytelling it movingly tracks an Allosaurus named Big Al through milestone life events till his death and fossilization. We become invested in Big Al as an individual dinosaur while learning about Allosaurus behavior patterns. The pathos hits hard in the finale when Big Al meets his end limping into his nest to die alone after suffering a crippling injury – it‘s an unexpected tearjerker!

I recall watching this Emmy award winning special as a kid and having my mind blown. It imagines dinosaurs let loose in modern day American settings through expansive CG animation integrated with live-action landscape shots. We see Stegosauruses ambling across Great Plains backdrops matted in and even a fierce Allosaurus charging down the streets of Washington DC. Beyond the gimmicky visuals though, it does profile various dinosaurs as they spread across America during late Jurassic times with great immersive world-building.

One of my personal favorites, this vividly realized documentary recreates the catastrophic impact event believed to have triggered the mass extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago. It alternates between harrowing disaster movie-esque scenes like pterosaurs getting battered by shockwaves and stranded nesting dinos struggling to survive the barren aftermath. Expert talking heads analyze the enduring mystery behind the greatest extinction our planet ever endured. Chilling and unforgettable.

Part science documentary and part Hollywood history, this entertaining film examines the pop culture obsession with cinema‘s favorite prehistoric predator – Tyrannosaurus Rex. From blockbusters like Jurassic Park to vintage flicks like One Million Years BC, we revisit iconic movie T-Rex appearances. Meanwhile digging into ongoing paleontological insights into the T-Rex‘s physiology, evolutionary origins and pack hunting strategies. Any dino or film buff will eat this right up!

Another great pick revisiting the meteor strike decimation of dinosaurs. It features atmospheric dramatized segments of a mother Tyrannosaurus futilely struggling to save her offspring amidst the fiery cataclysm. There is also fascinating present-day paleontological detective work piecing together the theory. We visit researchers excavating a possible crater site from that earth-shattering day revealing charred remains and ash layers. Both the human and dinosaur characters‘ survivalist plight is sure to tug at your heartstrings.

This short-lived attempt tried an avantgarde approach combining traditional CGI animation with borderline surreal artistic interpretations of dinosaurs. It depicts highly speculative and controversial behavior like feathered velociraptors adopting primitive human-like family structures. Love it or hate it, some of the Impressionist style visualizations of dinosaurs are provocative departures from standard documentary aesthetics. Daring, abstract and thought-provoking if not 100% scientifically sound.

Beyond these greatest hits there are fantastic lower profile dinosaur documentaries like Dinosaurs: The Final Day with David Attenborough (2022), Prehistoric America (2003), Dinosaurs Alive (2007) and many more worth discovering depending on tastes and which dinosaurs intrigue you most.

I hope you‘ve enjoyed this handpicked selection of the 10+ best dinosaur documentaries currently available and it inspires you to explore these lost prehistoric worlds brought to life onscreen. As filmmaking tools improve alongside paleontological insights, our understanding of dinosaurs continues to evolve keeping our fascination with them timeless.

Let me know your thoughts and any other awesome dinosaur documentaries I should check out! Happy viewing and stay curious.