Friday, 14 October 2016

FTDNA tree change

Something we've been waiting for a long time.

FTDNA have released an update that replaces the hard to navigate "ancestry view" with a quickly viewed landscape pedigree.

Adding that the glitch that causes matches to have the tree symbol activated (in your match list) when they only have their profile created but no tree, is still being worked on. Which is also good news.

If you are a fan of the DNArboretum extension to Chrome to get a quick overview of the pedigree of the match you are looking at, you'll be pleased to know that it works on the new landscape format, with the dates/places available on all as before, even though the pedigree view on the screen hasn't room to show that data at the earlier generations without your clicking on the person concerned.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

MyHeritage DNA "discoveries" - updated - again

An email arrived from MyHeritage overnight advised me that my DNA matches had arrived for the three kits I'd uploaded there, my usual trio of DNA family guinea pigs: myself, a maternal aunt, one of my closest paternal cousins (2nd, I don't have any closer paternal relatives).

I'm shown as having 477 DNA matches listed under my Discoveries tab from the link in the email.
In comparison:
FTDNA shows me 936 matches
23andme 1719 but the bulk of those are anonymous; only 200 open sharing; 195 previously public, not yet shared with; 359 sharing)
Ancestry too many to count, the VAST majority of them very small matches, although the latter does include some known relatives I've found as a result of a tree search having found them on GEDMatch with reasonable sized segments!

Top of the MyHeritage list are the two known relatives.
Following them the top six matches showed their largest segment match as being over 30cMs, and I only recognized ONE name.
Now I'm a double junkie, dna and genie, and work with the matches on all three companies for myself and a heap of family kits.
So I was (very) surprised.*

The report seems to be ordered by shared DNA in descending order ob cMs within the overall percent (with no immediately obvious way of filtering the report or obtaining a usable summary but I've only just started looking).
More 30cMs+ segments appeared further down the list.

Comparing results with other companies:

My maternal aunt is shown on MyHeritage as
Possible relationship Aunt

Shared DNA
23.7% (1,716.9 cM)
Shared segments
Largest segment
109.5 cM

FamilyTreeDNA reports my aunt as
Total shared 1642.96
Largest segment 120cMs

Shared 24.3%
Shared segments 49
Largest 124 cM

Looking at the name I recognized
Possible relationship 3C to 3C1R
Shared DNA
0.8% (56.1 cM)
Shared segments
Largest segment
31.2 cM

Shared 22%
Segments 1
Size 16cM  (Gedmatch 16.5)

Another as I scrolled well down the list for familiar names:
Total 45.73cMs
Largest 16.25 (1 segment)

Shared DNA
0.6% (46.1 cM)
Shared segments
Largest segment
17.1 cM

so that's comparable between sites.

So far, this has not imbued me with confidence that this will be a useful site, but it has to be said these are early days, and on the positive side, I could simply not have noticed all those new closer matches - well close by my standards outside the known relatives recruited to test :)

I do find MyHeritage trees completely and utterly unnavigable.
At least Geni has a pedigree view, as does FamilyTreeDNA although the latter does need the DNArboretum Chrome extension to be readable
And there's always with it's wonderful array of DNA focused charts.

Kitty Cooper has also blogged about MyHertiage DNA matches:

* Updated 7th Sep 2016
I started again at the top looking at the matches I didn't recognize, searching my projects and match data for anyone who may match them (I manage several projects and manage many kits).
First 2, not recognized anywhere.
The third, supposedly a 3C to 3C1R and sharing

Shared DNA
0.8% (56.3 cM)
Shared segments
Largest segment
31.9 cM 

with me might be someone who matches some of my matches on 23andme but hasn't appeared in mine unless anonymous there - which they can't be as that data came from the old CoA report with segment data.
Next is the first known match above, 31cM on MyHeritage 16cM on 23andme/GEDMatch
Then 3 not found anywhere, or insufficient information to determine if the same person
Then another 3C - 3C1R

Shared DNA
0.7% (52.8 cM)
Shared segments
Largest segment
24.8 cM

Where a match could be found on FTDNA identified by the trees attached on both MyHeritage and FTDNA. But the match on FTDNA is to one of my distant cousins, not me.
Lowering my search criteria from 10cM to 7 brought up a kit I help with, not related to me, but still no match to me.
Next 2 couldn't find.
The next might be a 26cM match to a distant cousin of mine on FTDNA but no candidates presented themselves for me and no tree was attached to confirm the id.
Next 6 couldn't be positively identified
We're still at 20 cMs and up here.
Then a
Shared DNA
0.7% (51.4 cM)
Shared segments
Largest segment
25.6 cM

looked to be found on FTDNA - but again as a match to another person, not known to be related to me.
Next couldn't be found, but the next looked promising.
Shared DNA
0.7% (51.2 cM)
Shared segments
Largest segment
30.7 cM

Name unusual enough to be the one showing up on FTDNA as a match around 13cMs to three of my 2nd cousins. But no match to me there down to 7cMs
No tree on MyHeritage but a match on Ancestry (via GEDMatch) to one of the above cousins.

I gave up checking at this point, rather disillusioned about the discrepancies/accuracy of the "match" criteria on MyHeritage - but on the plus side, will follow up on this last match, even though only 13cM on FTDNA/16cM on GEDMatch, as anyone matching that set of 2nd cousins always shows promise to chip away at some of the brickwalls that got me into DNA testing in the first place.

** Updated 9 Sep 2016
(as I posted to the DNA Newbies list)
as saying that they're taking all data, whatever build, from whichever company, to the same base set of data, imputing the bits that they haven't received from the kit you've uploaded.
(so given a choice you should upload the one from the company with the most tested SNPs)

Surely if you've tested on all three companies, and can't find the top matches in any of your match lists, the imputations of the missing bits to this common standard for comparison of eg your FTDNA test uploaded, can't be correct if it doesn't match the values from your independent test at ancestry or 23andme.

I'll keep looking further down my "match" list to see if I get any better hit rate of recognition.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Info on Timber

No, I've not joined the logging industry, I'd rather climb the trees :)

For those of you still struggling to understand why GEDMatch shows you some large ancestry matches that you then cannot find in your match list at Ancestry, have you heard about their timber algorithm?

Debbie Kennett posted on the DNA Newbies list a link to a blog post about it by an Ancestry employee so I thought it timely to mention it here.

What is actually most interesting about it are all the comments along the lines of stop making decisions on our behalf and give us our data, warts and all, AND a chromosome browser so that we can make up our own minds.

The usual advice holds, if you are interested in your autosomal DNA results, make the most of your investment, regardless of company, and upload the appropriate file to GEDMatch - full instructions available there once you've registered and clicked the appropriate file upload link.
This cartoon explains why you should, particularly if you tested on Ancestry.
Even if you aren't that interested in your matches, think of those of us that are.
In my experience (I've heaps of kits there), you wont be swamped by enquiries if you are worried about lack of time to respond.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

FTDNA Summer Sale

FTDNA's Sizzling Summer Sale starts now!
View this email in your browser
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For even more bundle specials, check out our Sizzling Summer Sale! With savings this hot, what better way to discover, match and connect more dots on your family tree! All that, and no subscription fees! For more information, visit

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Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Leveraging DNA and trees

Many of you will have received notifications of the new partnership on the block, that between FamilyTreeDNA and Geni.
If you are comfortable with linking your DNA to your tree (which you may already have done at FamilyTreeDNA and Ancestry - but only for your matches), then you may care to explore.
The free account seems to work just fine, although I do confess that I renewed my expired Geni-Pro subscription as I just couldn't resist attaching some source records, tidying up a bit and making sure at least my direct pedigree is there, along with a bit more family around my brickwalls of particular interest.
To do the latter quickly, without re-keying, I used the SmartCopy chrome extension, to pick up my data already on WorldConnect.

As for the DNA:
Early days as teething problems are still being ironed out.
Geni is obviously like a swan, paddling rather hard under the surface, and already improvements are noticeable.
Initially nearly all my matches showed up as predicted 2nd to xth cousins, 2ndC 1times or 2times removed, but with only 8cM or so segments shared that seemed unlikely.
That has already been improved to more realistic relationship predictions - even if my matches continue to only be the distant cousins I have no hope of ever finding the tree links too.

One of the benefits I can see is in the ability to find potential candidates for y/mt/atDNA for any theory you may wish to prove, or brickwall to crack.
But the caveat here is that the current propagation of potential candidates is rather conservative for atDNA - WikiTree wins hands down on those stakes.

I confess to being a little grumpy that ySearch and mitoSearch were mined and the publicly available
data from there has been imported - which means I have heaps of duplicated trees to tidy up and merge*, AND any more current yDNA data subsequently linked from FamilyTreeDNA is not currently over-riding the ySearch imprecise haplogroups.
* where most of them are marked as <Private> (Surname here) to make that an interesting challenge, and I'd rather be researching, finding DNA candidates and merrily triangulating segments to find those matches that will crack my brickwalls.
See below for a subsequent update from Geni **

Check out Roberta Estes' DNA-explained blog for the official announcements and her exploration of the Terms of Service at Geni.
And the Legal Genealogist's two posts as she tries to sort out the differences between Geni and its owner, MyHeritage, and to explore the new offering.
The latter, part-ii, includes information on some of the privacy options, and has a number of very useful comments and answers.

Don't forget WikiTree. It has a much wider range of useful charts, the same One World Tree concept, and useful DNA links as well once you indicate which test you took, just no actual DNA matching.

** Subsequent Update
Geni Support Team, Jul 20, 1:12 PM PDT:
Hi Lorna,

Thank you for contacting Geni Support. The ancestors of Robert Richardson have been switched to public. We also recently started switching all other deceased imported profiles public which should help you and your family with merging duplicate profiles as well as other Geni users with merging duplicate profiles.

We are planning for Family Tree DNA to send emails to YSearch and Mitosearch users so they can claim their imported profiles on Geni, however we do not know when the intended emails will be sent.

Kind regards,
The Geni Support Team
FAQ, Community Help, Feature Requests & Bug Reports -

Friday, 15 July 2016

Dividing up your atDNA matches just got easier...

... provided of course that you have some close known relatives tested as matches
AND have provided FamilyTreeDNA with at least a basic tree
AND linked the known relatives into their proper place in the tree.

Pity that 2nd cousins don't seem to count in the phasing.
That's the closest I can get on one side of my family.
Update: 2nd cousins now do "count" towards the phased matches.

Some relevant blog posts for your bedtime reading:

Well worth the effort of providing at least a basic tree.
It doesn't have to be an all bells and whistles, fully sourced, documented tree.
All FTDNA needs are the relationships to you of your known tested relatives and matches.
All your matches need to know are relationships, and approximate dates and places.
If they want to know more there are heaps of places where trees can be shared and collaborated on - check out WikiTree (great DNA links), the FamilySearch FamilyTree, and Geni. All are free, although Geni does also have a few additional smarts for subscribers.
WikiTree and Geni both have useful DNA tools.

We don't own "our" ancestors, so why not share at least the basic info on them with others and document your shared ancestors'  lives together.
We owe it to them.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Ancestry autosomal DNA transfers to FTDNA

This in from FamilyTreDNA

Ancestry Autosomal Transfer update:

As you may know, Ancestry has changed to a new chip for their testing, and has also recently changed the format of their autosomal raw data files. This new format is currently incompatible with our database, preventing holders of these new file types from transferring their autosomal data to us. We are working to adjust and make those files compatible with our system as soon as possible, and we have this placed at a high priority so that those Ancestry testers who have tested under their new chip may transfer to our database.

Please note that this issue only affects those who have recently tested with Ancestry- people who have tested with Ancestry prior to the recent change in their testing chip are still able to transfer.

------- refers.

All who have invested in autosomal DNA testing should also consider uploading to GEDMatch (free) to maximise your investment in genetic genealogy.
GEDMatch has many wonderful tools for analysing DNA and finding matches with those who tested at other companies.
Ancestry test takers in particular may find this cartoon instructive:

Anyone concerned about privacy may be reassured by reading this:

Can't find a direct male line descendant for your surname of interest brickwall?
Try autosomal DNA testing and learn about all your ancestral lines along the way.