At an exhibition in central China's Henan Province, a dinosaur embryo fossil dating back 86 million years caught the attention of audiences due to its paleontological value.
The 118-cm-long Beibeilong sinensis fossil was excavated in Henan in 1993, but later taken out of the country. After three years of efforts by Chinese authorities, the precious fossil was returned to China in 2013.
A precious dinosaur nest fossil shown at another exhibition in eastern Jiangsu Province has a similar storyline.
The fossil, discovered in China, made its surprise public debut at an auction in the United States where it sold for 420,000 U.S. dollars. It was returned to China after five years of efforts.
"These exhibitions help raise public awareness about protecting fossils, which are a precious natural heritage and non-renewable resource," said Wang Lixia, an official with the national expert committee on paleontology and fossils.
"China is a country rich in fossils," Wang said. "Those excavated in the country cover all biological categories and almost the entire evolutionary history of life."
More than 220 dinosaur fossils have been discovered in China, the most in the world. However, many have been smuggled out of the country for profit.
To combat smuggling, China has implemented regulations on the excavation, collection, as well as import and export control of fossils. More than 10,000 fossils have been returned to China.
The government has also made effort to create more public awareness about protecting fossils. By July last year, the Chinese government had named 53 areas as places of national fossil origins, established 17 fossil-themed national geological parks and set up special funds for fossil preservation.
"Raising public awareness is fundamental to fossil protection," said Xu Li, the curator of Henan Geological Museum, which houses a large collection of fossils.