A tiny piece of burned bone carved into the shape of a bird is extending the tradition of Chinese sculptural art back by thousands of years.
An international team of researchers led by archaeologist Zhanyang Li of Shandong University in China investigated a statuette recovered from the Lingjing paleolithic site in China's Henan province. The researchers say it depicts a standing bird and shows clear signs of having been worked by human hands.
"This discovery identifies an original artistic tradition and pushes back by more than 8,500 years the representation of birds in Chinese art," the authors said in a release on Wednesday.
The figurine was so well preserved the team was able to reconstruct how it was made. The bone material comes from a mammal and was sculpted using scrapes, gouges, abrasion and incisions. It shows signs of special care being taken to represent the eye and beak.