What made Leonardo da Vinci, Leonardo da Vinci? What is the secret behind Leonardo da Vinci’s universal talent and extraordinary talent?
We might be one step closer to discovering that mystery because of the 14 recently discovered directly related descendants to this diverse Renaissance researcher and painter.
Between one and age 85, the elderly reside close to Vinci within Tuscany in Tuscany. They “have ordinary jobs, like a clerk, a surveyor, a craftsman,” according to Alessandro Vezzosi, the founder of the Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci in Leonardo’s hometown, Vinci.
At the beginning of July, Vezzosi released a study on genealogy conducted in collaboration with Agnese Sabato, president of the Leonardo Da Vinci Heritage Association within the Journal of Human Evolution, “The New Genealogical Tree of the Da Vinci Family, to study Leonardo’s DNA. Ancestors and their descendants from the direct male line to the current XXI generation.”
The decades-long research on Leonardo’s family tree has led to tracing 21 generations so far, from 1331 to today, starting with da Vinci’s great-great-great-grandfather Michele; this investigation aims to reconstruct the genius’ genome, to “scientifically explore the roots of his genius,” the researchers wrote in the article.
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In 2016, the descendants of 35 living Leonardo were discovered. However, these were mostly indirect as a result of parallel relationships that also ran down women’s lines, such as in the most well-known case of Italian movie director Franco Zeffirelli; they could not give any valuable information on the genetic makeup of Leonardo and, in particular, on the Y-chromosome that was passed by fathers to children.
The breakthrough in the most recent research is in the fact that they have identified Leonardo’s lineage through an unbroken male lineage that traces back to da Vinci’s father Ser Piero and stepbrother Domenico, which can allow for the reconstruction of Leonardo’s genetic profile since the Y chromosome might have remained unaltered through the years.
The DNA of the 14 descendants will be examined over the next few months by comparing their Y-chromosome with their ancestors’ and contributing to the research of the international research group known as ‘ The Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project, which is chaired by Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University in New York.
“The objective for this Leonardo da Vinci DNA Project is to determine conclusively the authenticity of the remains that are believed to be that belonging to Leonardo da Vinci at Amboise Castle is his by comparing DNA profiles with the profiles of relatives known to be related. In addition, we plan to utilize whole-genome sequencing data from Leonardo’s relics to understand better his amazing capabilities and ability to see through genetic relationships,” the website states.
Leonardo was born in marriage in 1452. He was never married and did not have children, but he did have at the very least 22 half-siblings.
The details of who the 14 ancestors are have not been disclosed to safeguard their privacy.