A collection of dinosaur and bird fossils taken out of China has gone on show in the northeastern province of Liaoning after being returned by a French collector.
The fossils dated back at least 125 million years and were found in Liaoning before surfacing in Europe, Xinhua reported.
“The fossils went overseas for one reason or another, but in 2017 a French fossil collector decided to return them to China,” the report said.
The eight fossils are about 50-74cm (20-30 inches) long and clearly show the animals’ bone structure and traces of feathers. They are on display in a palaeontology museum in Shenyang.
Palaeontologist Sun Ge was quoted as saying the fossils were significant because they revealed the origin of birds and the relationship between dinosaurs and birds.
Dinosaur expert Xu Xing said the fossils suggested that dinosaurs could have developed feathers early on, and that one branch could have grown smaller and smaller, eventually evolving into birds.
More than 5,000 fossils have been returned to China since fossil protection regulations went into effect in 2011.