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Leonardo da Vinci was never married and didn’t bear any children, but 14 living descendants have just been uncovered in a study carried out into his family history. And, the youngest is only one year old.
The artist’s entire family line, which is spread across almost seven centuries, was scanned through. His grandfather, Michele da Vinci, was the first person with the Vinci surname, so they started with him, according to The Art Insider. He had 22 half-brothers, so although he didn’t have any children, the researchers were able to gather a good amount of data.
Led by art historians Alessandro Vezzosi and Agnese Sabato, the study took years to complete, and resulted in a paper titled “The New Genealogical Tree of the Da Vinci Family for Leonardo’s DNA. Ancestors and descendants in direct male line down to the present XXI generation,” published in the Human Evolution journal this week.
The living descendants are aged between one and 85, and live in neighboring areas of Vinci, Tuscany. Among them are “a clerk, a surveyor, [and] an artisan,” shared Vezzosi.
A similar study took place in 2016, tracing many female descendants. However, finding male descendants was of particular interest as Y chromosomes can remain unchanged indefinitely. By investigating the DNA of his descendants who hold this chromosome, scientists could study Da Vinci’s incredible abilities with deeper understanding.
“In particular, I’m interested in his visual acuity,” Ausubel told ARTnews. “Most humans can see 40 to 50 frames a second, but if you look at [Da Vinci’s] drawing of flying dragonflies and moving water it appears he had exceptional temporal resolution, perhaps seeing at 70 to 80 frames a second.”
The descendants’ DNA will go under analysis in the next few months, by comparing their Y-chromosome with their ancestors’ for a final verification.