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Da Vinci's Code

A group of researchers want to sequence Leonardo da Vinci's genome, Slate's Future Tense blog writes. They outline their plan to honor da Vinci, who died nearly 500 years ago, in Human Evolution.

The first stumbling block, Slate notes, is that they haven't yet found da Vinci's bones. Beginning in 2014, researchers have searched Amboise Castle in France where da Vinci is thought to be buried as well as his family's tomb in Florence and his mother's grave in Milan. To confirm that any remains are indeed da Vinci's, they will be compared to those familial samples and to traces of DNA obtained from his artwork, Jesse Ausubel, the vice chairman of the Richard Lounsbery Foundation which is funding the effort, writes at Human Evolution.

The researchers also plan to study the microbiome of da Vinci's paintings and track his descendants, including any living ones.

From all this, Slate notes that the researchers hope to garner a better understanding of da Vinci's talents, physical appearance, and disease risks. "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," Ausubel adds in his essay.

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