Michelangelo used the "Golden Ratio" of 1.6. The Golden Ratio is found when you divide a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is equal to the whole length divided by the longer part.
"We believe that this discovery will bring a new dimension to the great work of Michelangelo," said lead study author Deivis de Campos in a paper that appeared in the journal Clinical Anatomy.
The "Golden Ratio" has been linked with greater structural efficiency and has puzzled scientists for centuries due to its frequent occurrence in nature -- for example in snail shells and flower petals.
The "Golden Ratio" can also be found in a variety of works by architects and designers, in famous musical compositions and in the creations of many artists.
The findings suggest that the beauty and harmony found in the works of Michelangelo may not be based solely on his anatomical knowledge.
"He likely knew that anatomical structures incorporating the 'Golden Ratio' offer greater structural efficiency and, therefore, he used it to enhance the aesthetic quality of his works," the authors said.
Two of Michelangelo's best-known works, the Pieta and David, were sculpted before he turned 30. As an architect, Michelangelo pioneered the Mannerist style at the Laurentian Library in Florence, Italy.
At the age of 74, he succeeded Antonio da Sangallo, the younger, as the architect of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.