Fourteen people living in Italy today can claim to be the descendants of Leonardo da Vinci, according to a study of the Renaissance genius family tree.
Researchers have traced da Vinci’s genealogy spanning nearly 700 years and 21 generations, from 1331 to the present day, starting with da Vinci’s great-great-great-grandfather, Michele.
The findings, published July 4 in the journal Human Evolution, could allow historians to reconstruct Vinci’s genome, helping them “scientifically explore the roots of his genius” and other characteristics, such as his awkwardness and sensory perceptions. unique, the researchers wrote. in the study.
Alessandro Vezzosi, historian at the Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci in Italy, and Agnese Sabato, president of the Leonardo Da Vinci Heritage Association, mapped five main branches of the updated family tree. Da Vinci, best known for painting “The Last Supper” and “The Mona Lisa”, had no children, but his blood relatives include 22 half-siblings. The Renaissance artist, scientist and engineer was born out of wedlock on April 15, 1452.
Vezzosi and Sabato scoured historical documents to identify living parents through an unbroken male line of da Vinci’s father, Ser Piero, and his half-brother Domenico. Living offspring range from 1 year to 85 years old, the researchers say.
Historians plan to conduct genetic analyzes of living relatives to focus on the Y chromosome, which is passed down to male descendants, and “in which the indelible profile of Leonardo’s personal and family identity is etched,” the researchers wrote. in the study. Because this particular male line is uninterrupted, it is possible that the Y chromosome will remain unchanged, they said.
In addition to revealing new information about da Vinci’s personality and health, a DNA study could help verify his remains. Da Vinci died in 1519 and is believed to be buried in Amboise, France, but the precise location is not known.
The new study is part of an international effort to find and sequence the polymath’s DNA. The Leonardo Da Vinci DNA project includes researchers from the Leonardo Da Vinci Heritage Association, the Museo Ideale Leonardo Da Vinci and the J. Craig Venter Institute, based in California.