Monday, 7 August 2017

Visualise your Ancestry DNA Matches

Drowning in the analysis of your Ancestry match lists?
Can't figure out who best to contact?
Or how to get their attention by targetting your message?

Check out how to Visualise your Ancestry DNA Matches
Shelley Crawford has written several very clear posts about how to use  NodeXL (and's Ancestry download tools) to make sense of the morass of data.
Thank you to whoever mentioned this on the FaceBook group  Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques.

The instructions enabled me to reasonably quickly get from my seemingly endless screeds of data to be filtered and diced and sliced to:
Firstly this:

and then this filtered set of groups that actually do have interactions - or have a match of particular interest in them:

It does also rather highlight that I have a dearth of interconnected Ancestry matches up to "4th cousins" - only 147.
Of that 147 there's one 1st cousin (not included in the networks above to reduce clutter), one 2nd cousin, 6 predicted 3rd cousins (5 known to range from 2nd to 3C1R, the 6th unknown), and the remainder (139) predicted 4th, only 23 of whom are "placed".

Within an hour of posting my first targetted message to a 29cMs match asking if they had any idea how the three people connected I had a response - with a Perthshire connection identified between them, so possibly that Henderson/Millar brickwall will crack one day after all - once I figure out where it can be fitted into my tree! 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Benefits of BigY and yFull

The Fairbairn surname DNA project has reaped the benefit of testing a group for BigY and having the results analysed at


A new branch, I-Y32666,  with an estimated TMRCA of 225 ybp, has been created under I-Y7277  on the I1 haplogroup tree.

Now all we have to do is convince a few more of the matching Fairbairn kits, or an Elliot or two, to similarly test, to see how far back from that the Fairbairns and their matching Elliots (a very small subset of that surname project) diverged, or were still together for that matter!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

MyHeritage result compared to Ancestry/FTDNA/GedMatch

A "cousin" (3C2R) was selected by MyHeritage to be one of their initial DNA tested population.

His match has just come through (kit had to be re-sent), so I thought it a good opportunity to compare results across companies given he (SB) had tested at MyHeritage and Ancestry, as well as transferring his Ancestry test to FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage.
I've tested at Ancestry and FTDNA, and transferred the latter to MyHeritage.

We are both on GedMatch: T087062 (my Ancestry kit on GedMatch is set to Research only to avoid duplicating matches and cluttering result lists) and A533474.

The moral of the story appears to be:
Fish in as many ponds as you can afford, and make sure you upload to GedMatch to get a consistent view across companies as the data certainly varies, particularly in the total shared DNA.

The largest segment shows as a more consistent value across different companies than the total DNA shared, which is way too variable to be a reliable indicator from any one company.

The largest segment (excluding Ancestry which doesn't report such details - grrr!)  ranges from
51.3 (GedMatch phased to his father) to 56.3 (MyHeritage) where FTDNA comes in at 52 so all within cooeee.

The biggest differences come in on the total shared DNA ranging from 44 to 104 cMs!
MyHeritage wins at a massive 104.8cM, presumably because my transferred in kit has about 40cMs imputed from their database when compared to GedMatch's 60cMs total shared over 7cMs or 20cMs imputed compared with FTDNA's 89 total.
Ancestry only shows 44cMs total shared.

On GedMatch even reducing the match parameters to 1cM and 300 SNPs the total shared was still only 66cMs compared to FTDNA's 89 (and increased the segments shared to 4 with one under 5cMs now being shown - compared with Ancestry's 3 shared segments)

Intriguingly however, his initial kit transferred to MyHeritage from Ancestry (v2) shows a grand total of 6 matches - and does not include me, nor the other two cousins we share, who are on MyHeritage that do all show up in his actual MyHeritage test, one of whom does not show up in my transferred in kit but does on GedMatch and FTDNA (53 total/20 cMs largest).

Predicted relationship comparisons:
MyHeritage: 1C2R - 3C1R
Ancestry: 4th cousins - range 4-6th cousins
FTDNA: 2nd to 4th cousins
Actual: 3C2R

The details:

His match to myself (mine a transfer in from FamilyTreeDNA, his a direct test)

MyHeritage result:
Estimated relationships
1st cousin twice removed - 3rd cousin once removed
DNA Match quality
Shared DNA
1.5% (104.8 cM)
Shared segments
Largest segment
56.3 cM
(no changes after the apparent recalculations being done around 4 May 2017)
Ancestry result (both tested here, me v1 SB v2):
Predicted relationship: 4th Cousins
Possible range: 4th - 6th cousins (  )
 Confidence: High
 where the info button showed a total DNA shared of 44cMs over 3 segments

FamilyTreeDNA result (his a transfer from Ancestry v2):
2nd Cousin - 4th Cousin    89  52   X-Match

where  there are 2 segments over 5cMs, 4 segments counting all over 3cMs and 16 segments when counted over 1cMs, including the X.
The X match consisted of two segments, both less than 3cMs (and cannot be on the line we are known to share).

GedMatch result (both from Ancestry tests (me v1 SB v2), at defaults from the one to one comparison)

ChrStart LocationEnd LocationCentimorgans (cM)SNPs
Largest segment = 52.2 cM
Total of segments > 7 cM = 60.1 cM
2 matching segments
Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 3.9

403006 SNPs used for this comparison.

GedMatch with his match phased against his father's (at default settings):

ChrStart LocationEnd LocationCentimorgans (cM)SNPs
Largest segment = 51.3 cM
Total of segments > 7 cM = 59.2 cM
2 matching segments
Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 4.0

402849 SNPs used for this comparison.

Reducing the comparison to 300 SNPs and 1cM:

ChrStart LocationEnd LocationCentimorgans (cM)SNPs
Largest segment = 51.3 cM
Total of segments > 1 cM = 66.7 cM
4 matching segments

402849 SNPs used for this comparison.

Friday, 21 April 2017

DNA Day sale(s)

FamilyTreeDNA have announced their DNA Day sales.
Excellent discounts on offer in particular for:
FamilyFinder, BigY, SNP packs and yDNA.

Please remember to join your relevant surname project.

National DNA Day is April 25.
Celebrate with us!
Dear Group Administrators,

Beginning April 20th, our National DNA Day sale begins! The promotion ends at 11:59 pm Central Time on Thursday, April 27. Please remember that Items ordered though the invoice system (Bill Me Later) must be paid by that time.  

You’ll note that Y-DNA and mtDNA upgrades are not included. You will receive the reduced price if you add a product to an existing kit, but going from Y-37 to 67 or mtPlus to mtFull Sequence (FMS) will not be discounted this time. 
Other companies are also offering assorted discounts, a summary can be found on CeCe Moore's blog

Friday, 17 February 2017

Transfers into FamilyTreeDNA

This is indeed something we've been waiting for.
Points to note:
  • You cannot transfer an Ancestry or 23andme test to an account that already had a FamilyFinder test, and anyway, 
  • if you already have a FamilyFinder test at FamilyTreeDNA there is no real benefit in transferring an Ancestry test as well - it just duplicates results and clutters up match lists needlessly
  • FamilyTreeDNA requires an individual account per kit, but if you do already have an FTDNA kit number for eg a yDNA (direct male line) or mtDNA (direct female line but NOT atDNA (autosomal DNA aka FamilyFinder which is what is being referred to here), then yes your Ancestry or 23andme kit can be transferred into the same kit number.
  • Expect delays initially as data cannot be processed immediately. The Ancestry kit I wanted most to be able to see segment data for has been transferred with attempts to see the match list advising it was processing and to trry again for the match list in 24 hours. It took less.
  • Unlocking the more recent Ancestry and 23andme tests will show your matches up to predicted 5th cousins (shows as third to fifth cousin). To see the smaller matches testing at FTDNA is recommended, and a reduced price of $59 offered for that - which has the added benefit of being able to add eg yDNA testing to the same kit for males to explore their direct male line ancestry.
  • All on FTDNA should see an increase in their match lists as previous unlocked transfers, and new transfers, unlocked or not, are showing in the match lists already
This is a rightly popular option we've been waiting for.
Please encourage your Ancestry test takers in particular to use this transfer and take advantage of the ability to actually check where and who else they match.
None of this negates the benefit of GEDMatch - your match list on FamilyTreeDNA can only show you people who have tested on, or transferred to, FamilyTreeDNA.
Pay the $19 and actually see the segments of DNA involved!
Also refer to this post by Roberta Estes (DNAExplained blog)

The announcement below was received by project admins today.
Dear Project Administrators,
You’ve all been waiting for it, and it’s finally here - transfers for 23andMe© V4 and AncestryDNA™ V2 files!
Here are the details, point by point.
  • Customers can now transfer 23andMe© V4 and AncestryDNA™ V2 files in addition to the 23andMe© V3 and AncestryDNA™ V1 files that Family Tree DNA accepted previously. MyHeritage and Genographic transfers will be supported in the coming weeks.
  • Family Tree DNA still does not accept 23andMe© processed prior to November 2010. A Family Finder test will need to be purchased.
  • 23andMe© V3 and AncestryDNA™ V1 now receive a full list of matches and the ability to use the Matrix feature FOR FREE. For only $19, the customer can unlock the Chromosome Browser, myOrigins, and ancientOrigins.
  • 23andMe© V4 and AncestryDNA™ V2 receive all but the most speculative matches (6th to remote cousins), also for free. After transferring, if the customer wants to receive speculative matches, they will have to submit a sample and have a Family Finder run at the reduced price of $59.  
  • Matches should take somewhere between one and 24 hours to appear, depending on the volume of tests in the autosomal pipeline.
  • myOrigins update will be released in the coming weeks. Until then transfers will include only broad populations.
  • Additionally, all previously transferred files that have not been unlocked will receive their matches and have access to the Matrix feature for free as long as the release form is signed. These kits will be also be able to unlock the other Family Finder features for $19. If the transfer was on a kit with another product where the release form has already been signed, then the matches will appear with no further action necessary.
  • The Autosomal Transfer webpage has been enhanced to include a new image and a FAQ section. The FAQ section is displayed towards the bottom of the page.
  • If a customer tries to transfer the same autosomal file a second time, a message will be displayed that the file is a duplicate and will list the kit number of the original kit.
  • The main Autosomal Transfer topic in the Learning Center has been updated. This topic contains the most recent information and now includes all transfer subtopics on the same page. Additional FAQ information will be added to this topic as needed in the future.

As always, we appreciate your work with your projects! Thank you!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

BigY "matches"

As a complete layperson when it comes to interpreting BigY matches, I rely on the people on the DNA forums,, and the wonderful work of Alex Williamson and his BigTree (for R-P312 and sub branches). Wish there was an equivalent to Alex for I1-Z60!

This post is me thinking out loud as I explore why the yDNA67 group of matching RUNCIMANs are showing up in the BigY Match lists for the yDNA67 group of matching FAIRBAIRNs.

Back when both projects began individual SNP testing we learnt that both were I-Z60, so on the same branch back within recorded history.
They subsequently diverged.

From FTDNA's Learning Centre on

Big Y – Matching

The Big Y – Results,  Matching tab displays your Big Y matches. A person is considered a match if they have four or less differences in SNPs with you.
Known SNP Difference   
This column displays the number of known SNPs within your subclade that you do not share with the specified match. The following values are possible:
  • 0 – Indicates that you share all known SNPs with the specified match.
  • 1 – Indicates that there is one known SNP in the subclade that you do not share with the specified match.
  • 2 – Indicates that there are two known SNPs in the subclade that you do not share with the specified match.
  • 3 – Indicates that there are three known SNPs in the subclade that you do not share with the specified match.
  • 4 – Indicates that there are four known SNPs in the subclade that you do not share with the specified match.


A subclade is a subgrouping in the haplogroups of the human genetic trees. This may be either the Y-chromosome tree or the mitochondrial tree. Subclades are more specific to a location or population group than the major branches (haplogroups).
Which I suppose explains how come the newly tested FAIRBAIRNs are showing up in the already tested RUNCIMANs matches and vice versa if you take "your subclade" back far enough, although I'm not altogether sure I consider 4000+ years before present a "match". Perhaps I'm too used to working with atDNA these days!
Both surname groups were I-Z60 back when we were doing individual SNP testing to advance down the tree, formed 4300 ybp according to YFull. 
But then the RUNCIMAN matches headed off down I-Z160 to their own newly created SNP I-Y22033 (YFull, formed 500 ybp).
We knew back at the individual SNP testing stage a while ago that the FAIRBAIRNs are I-Z140 (which YFull estimate as forming 4100 ybp)
A brief overview of some of this structure is available on DNASurnames under the I haplogroup chart which shows selected branches, the patriarch for the line, and the tested participants who agree to be so shown.  Branches can be expanded or collapsed for a better overview by clicking on the + - symbols.
Looking at the latest set of FAIRBAIRN BigY results, 5 of the 6 RUNCIMAN tests show in their match list as having 4 SNP differences PR1457 Z140 Z141 PF3832, with one not showing Z140 in their list!
Shared novel variants range from 30 to 41 for the RUNCIMAN matches, compared with 57 and 61 for the two other tested FAIRBAIRN matches with zero known SNP differences.
An interesting exercise in timeframes.
yDNA matches don't tend to appear in Autosomal match lists
BigY matches don't seem to appear in yDNA STR matches (although for this one I have noted some exceptions). 
Not at all sure what I've really learnt from here but it is fascinating watching the developments on the respective yDNA haplogroup trees at FTDNA, YFull and Alex's BigTree.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Discount time


In the spirit of the holidays, Family Tree DNA has slashed prices on our most popular products. Plus, we’re sending you free Holiday Rewards every week of the sale so you can apply your Rewards to the already reduced prices for a bonus discount!

Best of all, make the season even more special by sharing your Holiday Rewards with friends and family. You’ll receive bonus coupons every time you share, so ‘tis the season to share the joy and get rewards.

With holiday savings this huge, your DNA has met its match. But hurry, this coupon is valid for 7 days only! 

From our family to yours… Happy Holidays.

The Family Tree DNA Team
The discounted prices are visible at the normal product page
and spare coupons available are being added to a communal spreadsheet at 
In addition BigY is $50 off, with coupons providing further discounts.
Which is a great opportunity to place your direct male line of interest onto the tree of mankind AND contribute to the ongoing science of yDNA discovery.

If your pedigree has any of the surnames listed in the top right "related sites", do please join the relevant project to assist our overall understanding of connections between documented lines.