A handful of people alive today can truthfully say they’re related to Leonardo da Vinci.
An extensive new study published this month in the journal Human Evolution has comprehensively retraced the late great Renaissance man’s family tree to discover that he still has 14 living relatives. Some of them even still live near his hometown of Vinci, Italy,
To confirm the living relatives, the study authors traced da Vinci’s heritage back 690 years, carefully comparing the Y chromosome of those living to their ancient ancestors.
Da Vinci — remembered for his overall genius as well as his paintings, sculpture and scientific discoveries — lived from 1452 to 1519.
“They are aged between 1 and 85, they don’t live right in Vinci but in neighboring municipalities as far as Versilia (on the Tuscan coast) and they have ordinary jobs like a clerk, a surveyor, an artisan,” study author Alessandro Vezzosi told Italian news outlet Ansa, Gizmodo reported.
The finding is the result of a decade of research by Vezzosi and co-author Agnese Sabato, which not only answers lingering questions about da Vinci’s genealogy but corrects some errors in previous research.
The living descendants are all the products of da Vinci’s relatives, including at least 22 half-brothers, as the polymath had no children.
Researchers hope the data can help connect how da Vinci’s genius, premature aging and left-handedness were potentially linked to his genetics and geographical origins. They also hope it’ll offer insight into his synesthesia and incredible vision, according to a press release.
The authors are also involved with the Leonardo da Vinci DNA Project, which seeks to “conclusively determine if the remains purported to be those of Leonardo da Vinci at Amboise Castle are his” and to “use whole-genome sequencing data from Leonardo’s remains to better understand his extraordinary talents and visual acuity through genetic associations.”