A new study has found that there might be about 14 living descendants of Leonardo da Vinci.
After looking through 700 years of DNA information, scientists found that the famous artist, architect, scientist and engineer might have some living male relatives today. These results come from a ten-year study of his DNA.
A previous study found relatives from both the male and female lines
According to two researchers, Agnese Sabato and Alessandro Vezzosi, da Vinci is part of a male line spanning 21 generations, starting with his grandfather, Michele, who was born in 1331. The line contains five branches with male members living today. Da Vinci himself was born in 1452 as an illegitimate son and died in 1519.
This study came after a previous find in 2016 by the same researchers who identified the artist’s 35 living relatives, some of whom came from the female line. However, most of these were indirect descendants of da Vinci. Franco Zeffirelli, the late film director, was said to be among his indirect descendants. These descendants could not give scientists important information regarding da Vinci’s DNA.
The Y chromosome can remain unchanged for 25 generations
Although he may have descendants living today, there are not from his direct line. Day Vinci never had any children. However, he had about 22 half-brothers. The researchers traced five generations from his father (5th generation) to one of his half-brothers, Domenico (6th). Going back to the 15th generation, they found people with ties to the artist and his family.
Scientists said they used da Vinci’s Y chromosome to find his descendants. The Y chromosome, which is passed from father to son, remains the same for 25 generations. By comparing the chromosome in the descendants to that of other relatives in older burial sites, scientists can find similarities.
Finding da Vinci’s DNA could lead researchers to other discoveries such as his diet, the origin of his parents, the reason for his intelligence, his left-handedness and any diseases he had. It could also verify the authenticity of the artwork that experts believed he touched.
The living relatives are between ages 1 and 85. None of them lives in Vinci but is instead in nearing locations.