New research has tracked 14 male descendants of Leonardo da Vinci, moving a step forward towards finding the artist’s DNA sequence.
The research paper was published in the Human Evolution journal this week. It was conducted by Alessandro Vezzosi (Director, Ideale Leonardo da Vinci Musuem) and Agnes Sabato (President, Leonardo da Vinci Heritage Foundation). The research focused on the entire family line of the artist that spans almost 7 centuries. The tracing began with his grandfather, Michele da Vinci – who was the first person to bear the “Vinci” surname. Through painstaking investigation, the researchers were able to locate 14 male descendants across 21 generations of the artist.
While the research officially began in 2016, the two researchers have spent decades trying to trace the family line of the Renaissance master. Vezzosi, who hails from the town of Vinci, started looking into records in 1973. In 1993, he started collaborating with Sabato, another da Vinci expert. By looking into numerous public and historical records, the two were able to find the last male descendants. Quite often, the descendants were eager to help and offered details of all their close and far relatives.
The research was part of the broader “The Leonardo da Vinci DNA Project”. As the name suggests, the project aims to discover and sequence the DNA of the artist. While a 2016 study already traced many female descendants of da Vinci, it was important to find the male descendants. The male heirs contain a “Y Chromosome” that could go unchanged across 25 generations. By studying the DNA of his male heirs, scientists could discover many insights about the master – like his vision and ability to observe rapid motions in nature. Other aspects of the project are collecting DNA from his original works/books and the remains from his burial place.