MICHELANGELO’S statue of David is in danger of collapsing under its own weight - due to its weak ankles.
The Renaissance sculpture, created between 1501 and 1504, depicts Biblical hero David, and was constructed from marble.
But Italian newspaper La Repubblica has reported that the sculpture - which weighs 5.5 tonnes - is starting to display signs of micro-fractures in its legs, with researchers based in Florence warning that the iconic statue could collapse.
The tree stump behind David’s right leg is also showing signs of wear and tear, despite being replastered at regular intervals over the years.
Weak spots were found in the sculpture’s ankles, following a series of tests on replicas, and it is believed these developed while the statue stood on display in Florence’s main square for over three hundred years.
The 17ft-high statue was already in a fragile condition as a result of the poor-quality marble Michelangelo used, as well as its off-centre pose and huge weight, according La Gazetta del Sud.
It has been suggested that the sculpture be moved to a safer location, or a new site outside the city, after warnings that an earthquake, or even construction work on nearby roads could cause the statue to topple over.