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Recovery of da Vinci’s DNA could be key to confirming his burial site

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Da Vinci's DNA may unlock the secret of his grave and his creativity

Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519 but his burial site remains a mystery. Researchers hope to recover da Vinci’s DNA from a painting currently being restored, according to SkyNews. The hope is to confirm his grave and, by studying da Vinci’s DNA and surviving relatives, to learn more about extraordinarily creative people.

Human remains currently at the Chateau d’Amboise in the Loire Valley may be da Vinci’s, but that opinion lacks certainty. Scientists from the J. Craig Venter Institute in California are going to attempt to retrieve hair and bits of skin from notebooks and paintings. The institute, which specializes in genetic research and genome sequencing, will compare DNA the scientists retrieve with samples from the remains at Chateau d’Amboise and with samples from da Vinci’s descendants. They will also use DNA from da Vinci’s parents’ graves. If everything matches, that will lock down the question of da Vinci’s burial site.

Related: Scientists successfully use DNA to store and retrieve images

The initial DNA retrieval efforts will be performed using da Vinci’s painting The Adoration of the Magi, which is currently being restored in Florence, Italy.

Once the researchers are confident they have da Vinci’s DNA, they plan to use genetic analysis to reconstruct his face shape, skin tone, and eye and hair color. Measurements of his descendants’ skulls will help determine the shape of da Vinci’s skull, which will further help re-create da Vinci actual appearance.

The Venter Institute is working with the International Institute for Humankind Studies at the University of Florence.”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,” said  Brunetto Chiarelli from the IIHS.