Want to revive the DNA of a protofascist warrior poet? Just gather the man's semen from an old hanky gifted to a girlfriend and voila, you have the first DNA reconstructed without exhuming human remains. At least that's what forensic experts did in Italy with Gabriele d’Annunzio, the Guardian reports. A multi-talented playwright-journalist-poet soldier, d’Annunzio seized a city in what is now Croatia in 1919 and established an independent state there. He also called himself "Il Duce" ("The Leader") and apparently inspired Benito Mussolini, who borrowed the moniker when he led fascist Italy in the 1930s, the UK International Business Times reports.
As for the semen-stained handkerchief, that was d’Annunzio's 1916 gift to his lover, Countess Olga Levi Brunner, to remind her of their night of shared passion. Police in Cagliari, Sardinia, analyzed a letter she wrote him and a toothbrush kept in Italian archives; then they spotted d’Annunzio's semen on the hanky using a crimescope light and compared it to DNA from his great grandson. Now, an Italian archivist jokes that other historical figures might be cloned using similar detective work: "Nobody wants to clone D’Annunzio, but nobody knows what changes will take place in science and society," he says. "It’s good the DNA has been collected." (Read more DNA stories.)