Since I sculpt toys as a hobby, I'm incredibly impressed by the Japanese art form called "jizai okimono", which means "Articulated Figurines". Artists as far back as the Edo period created articulated, hyper-realistic animal sculptures from metal and wood.
Google-image searching that term comes up with some amazing looking stuff, considering the material limitations.
I found out this art form existed thanks to a posting on iO9 about a Japanese artist who sculpted a 1:1 scale, fully articulated lobster out of wood:
Read more about Jizai okimono from an artist who is studying this art form here.