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Modern Mysteries

DNA to help solve Leonardo da Vinci mystery

By T.K. Randall
May 6, 2016 · Comment icon 9 comments



Where is Da Vinci's final resting place ? Image Credit: Svenska Familj-Journalen
Scientists are hoping to extract DNA from skin and hair samples found on some of Da Vinci's paintings.
The groundbreaking new study, which will enable researchers to learn more about the celebrated Renaissance genius than ever before, will begin with a careful examination of his paintings and notebooks to look for any hairs or flakes of skin from which traces of DNA can be extracted.

By analyzing this genetic material it should be possible to determine many of his physical characteristics such as the color of his eyes, the tone of his skin and the shape of his face.
It may also be possible to use the DNA to solve one of the biggest remaining mysteries surrounding Da Vinci - his final resting place. While he was known to have been originally buried in the chapel of Saint-Florentin in France in 1519, the building was destroyed in the French revolution and it is thought that his remains may have been moved to the smaller chapel of Saint-Hubert instead.

"If human DNA is obtained from Leonardo’s work and sequenced, the genetic material can then be compared with genetic information from skeletal or other remains that may be exhumed," said Jesse Ausubel, vice-chairman of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.

"We stand to gain not only greater historical knowledge of Leonardo but possibly a reconstruction of his genetic profile, which could provide insights into other individuals with remarkable qualities."

Source: Telegraph | Comments (9)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Taun 7 years ago
Either his characteristics - or those of the many thousands that have touched his paintings and notebooks over the centuries...
Comment icon #2 Posted by Gingitsune 7 years ago
Ideally, they would find many such a trace and they will match between a few works which were never manipulated by the same people. For example, a fresco in Italy and a painting in France. Additionally, they found a direct male descendant from Leonardo Da Vinci's father, so if there was no cheating or unrecorded adoption along the way, the Y-DNA signature should match, close to a few mutations. Unless it spins into a who's the daddy drama ŕ la Richard III. So it is possible, but it is a long shot.
Comment icon #3 Posted by BeastieRunner 7 years ago
Ideally, they would find many such a trace and they will match between a few works which were never manipulated by the same people. For example, a fresco in Italy and a painting in France. Additionally, they found a direct male descendant from Leonardo Da Vinci's father, so if there was no cheating or unrecorded adoption along the way, the Y-DNA signature should match, close to a few mutations. Unless it spins into a who's the daddy drama ŕ la Richard III. So it is possible, but it is a long shot. That sounds like Leonardo, though. Could be fun!
Comment icon #4 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
He was an amazingly gifted, talented and creative person to be sure. Hope we can learn more about him.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Infernal Gnu 7 years ago
(begins chanting) Clone! Clone! Clone! Make an embryo from his DNA and plant it in a surrogate. Leonardo could return from the dead!
Comment icon #6 Posted by DieChecker 7 years ago
I thought hair didn't have DNA in it, only the medula at the end does. Seems like a long shot to get enough material to do an analysis. I hope success for them anyway.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Gingitsune 7 years ago
(begins chanting) Clone! Clone! Clone! Make an embryo from his DNA and plant it in a surrogate. Leonardo could return from the dead! It won't be Leonardo returned from the dead, but his identical twin separated before birth...
Comment icon #8 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
Here's a question that may spark some debate, would the clone be Leonardo without the life experiences that shaped his psyche?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Gomar 7 years ago
(begins chanting) Clone! Clone! Clone! Make an embryo from his DNA and plant it in a surrogate. Leonardo could return from the dead! Ye, and so could Adolf Hitler, Genghis Khan, etc. why not anyone we lost too soon like Hendrix, Monroe, James Dean, Mozart, Pushkin, etc. BTW, it's all nurture not nature. Had Hitler been born in America in 1989 instead of Austria in 1889, he would've been a starving homeless painter instead of a... ...well, a "Hitler".


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