The figurine has oversized tail, allowing it to balance on its pedestal.
“Without this trick the bird would fall on its head,” D’Errico said, adding that this shows the carving is not just a “casual experiment”.
The study authors said that the craftsmanship suggests the advanced stage of an artistic tradition, which began much earlier.
In recent years, cave paintings in the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sulawesi have been dated as over 40,000 years old, suggesting ancient societies with advanced artistic cultures in the region.
While three-dimensional portable art has been documented in Europe dating back some 40,000 years, the researchers said the Lingjing bird was the oldest such example found in East Asia.
Paleolithic hunter-gatherers in China are known to have manufactured bone tools such as spear points and needles, as well as personal ornaments made of shells, ostrich eggs and animal teeth, D’Errico said.
“The carving of objects with no apparent functional purpose, requiring a dedicated apprenticeship to be made, opens a new window on these societies,” he added.