The film is the third installment of the Ice Age series and a sequel to the 2006 film Ice Age: The Meltdown. The story has Sid being taken by a female Tyrannosaurus after stealing her eggs, leading the rest of the protagonists to rescue him in a tropical lost world inhabited by dinosaurs beneath the ice.
Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, Dawn of the Dinosaurs ranked at the time as the second highest grossing animated film of all time, earning $886.7 million worldwide. A sequel, titled Ice Age: Continental Drift, was released in 2012.
Ellie and Manny are expecting their first child, and Manny is obsessed with making life perfect and safe for the family, since his first experiences as a husband and father went bad when his family were killed by hunters. At the same time, Diego finds himself unable to catch a cocky gazelle he has been stalking and decides to leave the herd, believing that he is losing his predatory nature as a tiger. Sid begins to wish for a family of his own and “adopts” three apparently abandoned eggs that he finds in an icy underground cavern and call them Egbert, Shelly, and Yoko. Manny tells him to put them back, but Sid instead looks after the eggs, which hatch into baby Tyrannosaurus the next morning.
Although Sid tries his best to raise the three dinosaurs, their rambunctious behavior scares away all the other animals’ young and ruins a playground Manny built for his child. A female Tyrannosaurus, Momma, whose eggs Sid stole, soon returns and carries both Sid and her young underground, with Diego in pursuit. Manny, Ellie, Crash, and Eddie follow as well and discover that the icy cavern leads to a vast jungle populated by dinosaurs thought to be extinct. Here, an Ankylosaurus threatens the herd despite Diego’s efforts to fend it off; they are saved from a further crowd of angry reptiles by a deranged one-eyed weasel named Buck.
Buck has been living in this jungle for quite some time and is chasing Rudy (a huge albino Baryonyx), intending to avenge the eye he lost to it when he was young. He agrees to lead the herd through the jungle’s perils to Lava Falls, where Momma has taken Sid and her babies. In the meantime, Sid and Momma try to outdo each other in feeding the offspring; he loses this contest, but is soon welcomed into the family regardless. The next day, however, Sid is separated from the family and attacked by Rudy. Sid is knocked onto a loose rock slab that is floating on a river of lava and about to plummet over the falls.
As the herd moves toward Lava Falls, Ellie goes into labor and a Guanlong pack strikes, causing a rock slide that separates her from Manny and Diego. Manny doubles back to protect her and Diego fends off further attacks, while Buck takes Crash and Eddie ahead to rescue Sid. Just as he goes over the falls, the trio swoops in on a commandeered Harpactognathus only to been chased by a flock of Pterodactylus on the way and saves his life. Manny reaches Ellie, and there is suddenly a reaction, the cry of a newborn baby girl. He wants to name her Ellie, or Little Ellie, but Ellie instead names her Peaches after the fruit (and the codeword they had chosen to use if she went into labor during the trip). Sid is saddened at the fact that he never had a chance to say goodbye to "his" children as he returns to the herd and learns of Peaches' birth.
Before they can leave the jungle, they are spotted by Rudy, who begins to attack them at full force; Buck lures Rudy away from the group and is nearly eaten himself, before Diego can save him. Manny, Sid, Diego, and Buck double back to trap Rudy by ensnaring him in vines. He breaks free and resumes his onslaught. The herd is saved by the timely arrival of Momma, who charges at Rudy and knocks him off a cliff before roaring her victory. As she and her children wish Sid well, Buck, now without a purpose in life since Rudy is gone, decides to join the herd and live on the surface. However, a distant roar tells him that Rudy is still alive; he changes his mind and sends the herd home, blocking off the path to the underground jungle at the same time. Manny and Ellie welcome Peaches into their frozen world and admit that Sid did a good job looking after Momma's children. Diego decides to remain with the herd, while Buck stays underground, battling it out with Rudy.
- Ray Romano as Manny
- John Leguizamo as Sid
- Denis Leary as Diego
- Seann William Scott as Crash
- Josh Peck as Eddie
- Queen Latifah as Ellie
- Simon Pegg as Buck
- Chris Wedge as Scrat
- Karen Disher as Scratte
- Bill Hader as Gazelle
- Joey King as Beaver Girl
- Jane Lynch as Diatryma Mom
- Kristen Wiig as Pudgy Beaver Mom
- Carlos Saldanha as Dinosaur Babies / Flightless Bird
- Eunice Cho as Madison (Diatryma Girl)
- Maile Flanagan as Aardvark Mom
- Clea Lewis as Start Mom
- Devika Parikh (additional voices)
This was the first Ice Age film to not release in March