After getting my DNA tests completed and for the past few years pouring over that data using tools like GEDMatch, and most recently, Genome Mate, I’ve started to accumulate Most Recent Common Ancestors (MRCA) with some of my DNA matches. How to figure those out is another post entirely.
Granted, I don’t have a lot of confirmed MRCAs, yet, but I do have a few. You can use this data to make a chromosome mapping. Genome Mate does this for you in the software, but there is also a web version (seen below) that will do it for you. This will paint all of the segments on your chromosome that match those ancestors. Once you get a lot of confirmed MRCAs, the mapping looks really cool. Mine is getting started.
As you can see, I only have 2 MRCAs confirmed, one on each side. My paternal 3rd-great-grandparents, Michael Troka and Josylna Grabowska and my maternal great-great-grandparents, Carl Last & Augusta Luedtke.
The Troka connection is not yet fully confirmed, but the information we have is pretty solid. The Last connection is confirmed as I’ve matched up family trees with a 3rd cousin I found via a 23andMe match. I have a few more matches in progress that are close to finding information on our MRCA. It can be tough work sometimes, but there is hope of finding all new ancestors.
I mentioned in a recent post that I was able to get 23andMe tests for my father and my father-in-law that would hopefully help narrow down DNA matches and also find out more about ourselves. Those tests have been taken, sent in, and now finally analyzed. There were no surprising results, but it does help make a clearer picture of certain things.
With my father’s tests, I was also able to get his mtDNA (or Maternal) Line passed down from his mother’s line. The surnames that it follows would be CORRIGAN > BRAATZ > STEARNS > SCHUMACHER > HEINZ > HETTLER and that’s as far as I have right now. It’s basically a deep German line (minus the obvious Irish one in the beginning.) His mtDNA haplogroup is U4, but the subgroup is U4a3. 23andMe says:
Haplogroup U4 is found in western Eurasia, from Mongolia to central Europe. It arose about 25,000 years ago and subsequently spread with the migrations that followed the end of the Ice Age about 14,000 years ago.
[U4a] diverged from its U4 sister lineages about 21,000 years ago in the region surrounding the Baltic Sea. Today it is most common among the people of the Volga River and Ural Mountains of Russia, such as the Chuvash, Kets and Mari. It is also common among the Baltic and Finnish people of northern Europe who speak languages related to the Finno-Ugric tongues of the Volga-Ural region in western Russia.
That didn’t really surprise me. As for the YDNA line, which I also share, what is interesting is that my haplogroup is R1a1a* which usually means they know you’re R1a1a, but more than likely part of a subgroup. My father’s YDNA haplogroup is found to be just R1a1a, technically putting us in separate groups on the site. More than likely their tests are now more accurate and figured out that we’re directly from the R1a1a haplogroup.
My father-in-law’s tests were doubly useful as both the YDNA and mtDNA info was new to us as my wife doesn’t get either of those passed down from him. His mtDNA line, which follows the surnames: COLLINS > HUIZEL > REINDL > BOHM. The research on this line ends in the South Bohemian section the Czech Republic, which I assume was Czechoslovakia at the time. His mtDNA haplogroup is found to be H5.
H5 appears to have originated during the Ice Age, as the human population of Europe retreated to the few relatively mild pockets of the otherwise frozen continent. The haplogroup appears to have sprung up somewhere near the Caucasus Mountains, or in forests near the Black Sea. H5 is particularly common today in Georgia and in other populations from the Caucasus region. Not long after it originated, a few migrants carried H5 along the southern fringes of Europe into the Balkans and as far west as France, where the haplogroup can still be found today.
It seems to line up with the little amount of data we have on that line. His YDNA line, which we assumed was pretty deep Irish as the surname is MORAN, was pretty close to our assumptions. The YDNA haplogroup was found to be (besides the longest one ever) R1b1b2a1a2f*. There is that little asterisk again.
R1b1b2a1a2f2 reaches its peak in Ireland, where the vast majority of men carry Y-chromosomes belonging to the haplogroup. Researchers have recently discovered that a large subset of men assigned to the haplogroup may be direct male descendants of an Irish king who ruled during the 4th and early 5th centuries. According to Irish history, a king named Niall of the Nine Hostages established the Ui Neill dynasty that ruled the island country for the next millennium.
Northwestern Ireland is said to have been the core of Niall’s kingdom; and that is exactly where men bearing the genetic signature associated with him are most common. Genetic analysis suggests that all these men share a common ancestor who lived about 1,700 years ago. Among men living in northwestern Ireland today that date is closer to 1,000 years ago. Those dates neatly bracket the era when Niall is supposed to have reigned.
Besides matching our assumptions, that is a cool fact about men from that haplogroup. It’s the first haplogroup I’ve dealt with that names an actual (possible) ancestor. It also gives a highly-probable area of where to look for the origin of his MORAN ancestors.
Outside of the haplogroup testing, we’re still using this new info to break down DNA matches. Having at least one parent allows you to know which side a match comes from, narrowing down the research. I’m still working on that. The tests also gave us some interesting data on our Ancestry Composition which I will post about soon.
Anyone test their parents or other close relations and get some useful information?
Last week, my wife received a message at 23andMe, which isn’t out of the ordinary. Since I handle our accounts, I checked the message. It was from a woman who saw that her and my wife were estimated to be 5th cousins, based on their DNA matching. That’s not that interesting, as most people have dozens, if not hundreds, of matches on the site. The interesting part is that she mentions that she was abandoned when she was born and has no idea about her parents or her ancestry.
I told her that I was going to send her an invitation on the site to share genomes so that we could see exactly where her and my wife match. I told her I could plug that information into a spreadsheet I made that helps me keep track of the matches and to also keep track of possible common ancestors from those matches (I need to post about that at some point.) She shared her genomes and I entered her data.
I messaged her back and told her she was pretty lucky. She matched my wife on the 2nd Genome and it happened to be the same area as another match that we had determined a possible common ancestor. Based on the data, this ancestor was more than likely her ancestor, too. I sent her a link to my family tree site to John C Lant and told her that he was probably her ancestor. She was very happy since she said she didn’t have any other ancestors. Helping her out made us feel really good and I’m glad we could shed some more light on her mystery. It’s amazing what DNA can do.
Also, on the DNA front. I ended up ordering 2 more 23andMe kits during their price drop. I planned to give one to my father and one to my father-in-law to help give us more information on our genealogical matches and also get more info on their Y and mtDNA lines.
I chose the two fathers as they would give us the most information. For example, my mother would give me almost no more information (genealogically) since she would only have mtDNA info, which I also have myself. Even though my father has the same Y-DNA line as me, he will give me his mtDNA line through my grandmother. My father-in-law will give us more information since my wife does not get his Y-DNA line so we will get that and also his mtDNA line. Another helpful thing is that we will now be able to split our results between mother and father since we will have one of them. This will help figure out which side of the family a DNA match comes from. My wife also has some Native American composition and we’re curious to see which side that came from.
Have you had any interesting things happen with your DNA results?
This is Part 4 in a series of post dedicated to finding out more information about your DNA test results from 23andMe or Family Tree DNA. If you haven’t read it, yet, view Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Today we’re going to look into the last set of DNA that you can use in your research, Autosomal DNA. This is DNA which is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (the X chromosome and the Y chromosome). Each pair of autosomes is inherited the same way.
For each pair of autosomes, you received one from your mother and one from your father. Before the autosomes were sent to you, they were randomly jumbled in a process called recombination. Your parents also received their autosomes from their parents who also recombined them. So, your autosomes are random mixtures of all of your ancestors autosomes. All branches of your ancestry contribute to your Autosomal DNA. Obviously, the more distant the ancestor is, the less you share with them. Closer relatives will share larger fragments with you compared to distant relatives.
For example, this chart below shows, on average, how much autosomal DNA you share with specific relatives:
This is the DNA that most places use to match you up with potential cousins using Relative Finder from 23andMe or Family Finder from Family Tree DNA. If you have shared genomes with people on 23andMe, you can go to “Ancestry Labs” on the menu and choose “Family Inheritance: Advanced” to see which parts of your autosomal DNA you share, if any.
GEDMatch.com can also compare your Autosomal DNA and show you, in great detail, where you match with other individuals.
I hope you learned something. Remember, DNA testing is much more useful with an already sourced genealogy paper trail. Otherwise it will be very difficult to see how you relate to your DNA matches.
This is Part 3 in a series of post dedicated to finding out more information about your DNA test results from 23andMe or Family Tree DNA. If you haven’t read it, yet, view Part 1 or Part 2.
I had the YDNA and mtDNA down pretty good in my head. One is paternal, one is maternal, and so on. Then after I submitted my info to GEDMatch, I saw the “Compare your X-chromosome FTDNA or 23andMe result with one other result in our database” option. Ok, so what exactly does the X Chromosome tell me and how do I inherit it?
The X Chromosome is passed down by both parents, though only daughters get it from their father as the father sends over the Y Chromosome to their son instead. This makes for a weird line of inheritance through your ancestry. A good way to figure this out is to use a fan chart. I was able to find a chart on this helpful post over at The Genetic Genealogist about the X Chromosome. Here is my chart, filled in with my ancestors, telling me where I could have inherited my X Chromosome:
The charts can be found over at The Genetic Genealogist, though I had to increase the image size a bit to make it easier to work with. There is also a chart showing the estimated percentage of the X Chromosome that you get from each ancestor.
I obviously don’t have all of the boxes filled in as I don’t have those ancestors figured out, yet. On my research over at GEDMatch, I see that I match a few people on my X Chromosome. So, in theory, these people would be related to me through those ancestors in the chart above (or beyond, in the same sequence.) My French-Canadian ancestry is included in the chart above, so I undoubtedly will have a lot of connections through there as I always do. It’s not a silver bullet by any means, but it does help you narrow down your search if you find a connection, especially along with other matches in other DNA areas or common surnames.
This is Part 2 in a series of post dedicated to finding out more information about your DNA test results from 23andMe or Family Tree DNA. If you haven’t read it, yet, view Part 1.
There are four main types of DNA that can be used for genealogy purposes: Autosomal, X Chromosome, Y Chromosome, and Mitochondrial DNA. Each type of DNA is passed down from parents to children in different ways, allowing different patterns or different signs to help in your research. Here is a quick video that I found very useful explaining the four types:
Most people that have taken DNA tests are somewhat familiar with what seem to be the “big two”: Y Chromosome (YDNA) and Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). These are the two types of DNA that literally shoot out in opposite directions from you through your ancestry, though females can only trace mtDNA. They also give you the Haplogroups that you may have seen, one Maternal and one Paternal. Mine are H11a and R1a1a, respectively. They use this to determine where your deep ancestry hails from.
YDNA is passed down from from fathers to sons. The father is the one that determines the sex of a child by either giving an X Chromosome, for female, or a Y Chromosome, for male, which is why only males can use the YDNA information. The YDNA information traces your patrilineal line (or your surname line) back thousands of years since the Y Chromosome does not change very often as it is passed down.
mtDNA is passed down only from mother to all of her children. It works in a similar way to YDNA in that you can use it to trace your matrilineal line back thousands of years (your mother’s mother’s mother and so on.)
In the last week or so I’ve dug deeper into my DNA testing results mainly from my 23andMe test. I hope to have this be my first post in a “series” of posts about DNA for genealogy since I’ve done a lot of other research about different types of information found in your DNA.
Another genealogist on Twitter pointed me to a genetic genealogy matching site called GEDMatch.com. The site allows you to upload a copy of your raw DNA data from 23andMe or Family Tree DNA and then let you do all sorts of matching and comparing with it. The site’s user interface could use a bit of work, but we’re pretty used to that in genealogy (I’m looking at you Find-A-Grave and almost every USGenWeb site.) But underneath the hood of the site, it’s very powerful once you figure out how to use it correctly.
The first step in getting your data to GEDMatch is to get it from your original testing site. I went with 23andMe, but it seems Family Tree DNA is just as simple. Sadly, Ancestry.com does not yet allow you to download your raw data from their site, but hopefully they will add this in the future. It literally is your data.
The steps to getting this file from 23andMe is pretty easy. Even if you don’t plan on uploading it anywhere else, it’s always nice to have a copy locally as a backup.
At the top-right of the site, mouse over the “Account” option and select “Browse Raw Data.”
On the next page, near the top, there should be a “download raw data” link. Click it.
This will bring you to the download screen. Fill in the information and make sure to select “All Data.”
It should then ask you to download a compressed ZIP file. This is your raw data.
Feel free to do this with every account you manage, if you have more than one.
Once you have that information on your computer, browse over to GEDMatch.
You’ll need to scroll down a bit to the “Upload Your Data Files” section and click on “Upload your 23andMe DNA raw data file”
They have another list of steps to take to get your raw data, feel free to look it over again.
Fill out the form as they tell you and upload your raw data.
Now, it will take about 24 hours for them to process your data, so check back. Come back here in the next day or so for the next in the series tentatively titled, “Now What? Can They Clone Me?” Visit Part 2 here to learn about the YDNA and mtDNA lines.
I received an email the other day from 23andMe letting me know about their new “Ancestry Composition” tool. I let it go to the back-burner since I didn’t have a chance to visit it the other day.
Today visited the link and was quite impressed. This is how it works, according to their site:
Ancestry Composition tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 22 populations worldwide. The analysis includes DNA you received from all of your ancestors, on both sides of your family. The results reflect where your ancestors lived 500 years ago, before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes came on the scene.
Mine wasn’t really that surprising, as usual. Mostly Northern European with most of that going to German/French and small chunks going to the British Isles and Scandinavia, just like my Ancestry.com test. Here is a capture of my data. That 0.2% Unassigned? That’s probably troll or goblin or alien or something. Nothing to worry about.
Though, what was slightly surprising is when I loaded up my wife’s Ancestry Composition. I would’ve guessed she is mostly Northern European like me, with most of it going to the British Isles. It turns out she also has some Scandinavian. There was one surprising result on the list. Can you spot it?
That’s right. 0.2% East Asian & Native American, estimated to be about 0.1% Native American. That’s news to us. I have yet to find any connection to that, though I know this test is for way, way back. I’d be interested to see which side of her genes this came from, paternal or maternal. I’m pretty sure her dad would be interested in getting a test. He’s always interested in stuff like this. Maybe next time we visit, I can ask.
If you took a DNA test, was there anything really interesting or surprising in your results?
Besides the standard health information and deep ancestry testing, I’ve always been curious about the possibility of our ancestors leaving traces of their memories in their DNA as it gets passed down. This idea has been used in some movies, like the 1980 movie Altered States, or in video games, like the Assassin’s Creed series.
While I doubt that their specific experiences are burned into our DNA, but possibly certain memories related to their experiences. For example, an article that talks about this idea contains this:
Let’s say you have always had a significant fear of bears since you were a child. Even Smokey the Bear and other friendly Hollywood bears could not convince you to regard bears with anything but anxiety and fearful feelings.
Maybe it is possible that deep, deep within your DNA memory banks, your great-great-great-great-grandmother or great-great-great-great-grandfather had a very bad experience with a bear two hundred years ago. Maybe they saw someone be killed by a bear. Maybe they had to climb a tree to save themselves from being eaten by a bear.
Would a life-changing experience like this, resulting in knowledge very useful for survival, possibly be encoded in the DNA and passed on to future generations and you?
Who knows? I find that to be a fascinating idea. Though, I would find it even more fascinating if we could tap into these memories. Maybe then I can finally figure out my great-great-grandfather’s parent’s names.
Ancestry sent me an email a few months back giving me an early invitation to their new Ancestry DNA service. I couldn’t resist, so I ordered one and sent it back in. The results were recently posted and there are some cool new things in there.
The first interesting fact is that according to them, I am 50% Eastern Eurpoean (which is no news to me) but that I am also 45% Scandinavian. That is definitely news to me. The other 5% is lumped under “Uncertain.” Obviously, like an genealogy-related DNA test, according to Ancestry, “Your genetic ethnicity results may be updated. As more DNA samples are gathered and more data is analyzed, we expect our ethnicity predictions to become more accurate, and in some cases, more detailed.”
This also doesn’t take into account recent history as DNA goes way, way back. I know I trace my family to Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, etc and none of those are listed. Poland and Germany can technically fall under “Eastern European.” According to their info, my guess is that I may descend from either the Vikings or the Goths.
While the Vikings were feared by the coastal towns of medieval Europe as seaborne raiders and violent pillagers, they were also well-travelled merchants and ambitious explorers. They raided the Mediterranean coast of Africa, settled areas as far south as the Black Sea, and traded with the Byzantine Empire.
The rise of the Viking culture spread Scandinavian ancestry far throughout Europe. Their earliest coastal voyages took them to Scotland, northeastern England and established the settlement of Dublin, Ireland. As their power continued to grow, the Vikings spread farther afield, down the Volga River in Russia, to the coast of France and Spain.
And it wasn’t just the Vikings who had an irrepressible urge for adventure. In the days of the mighty Roman Empire, the Goths, originally from Sweden, wandered south and settled in what is now eastern Germany.
That could explain the Scandinavian DNA. They settled (and probably sacked) a lot of areas I have ancestry.
The other part of Ancestry’s DNA area is the “Member Match.” The one thing that propels their test over 23andMe’s test is that it’s tired directly to member’s family trees that they uploaded. The matches are broken down into “Confidence” and “Distance.” I had 2 people match me within the “4th Cousin” distance with 96% probability. One was anonymous with no tree, so that wasn’t helpful, but I did leave them a message. The other was helpful and as soon as I saw their tree I knew how we were related.
On a side note, originally I had incorrectly linked my DNA profile to my family tree entry in my Facebook app Ancestry tree, not my full detailed main tree, which threw off the results. After I fixed this issue, when I went back to this match, it actually told me exactly which ancestor we shared. We both shared my 3rd-great-grandparents, William “Curly Bill” CORRIGAN and Mary MCCANN. I found that fascinating as I have not yet even found a genealogical match on my 23andMe test. Hopefully as more people add their DNA, I will get more matches. I do have a bunch of matches in the “5th-8th Cousin” area, but those are at Moderate confidence and I have yet to see any similarities.
If you get an invitation or Ancestry opens the test up to everyone, I would recommend ordering one. Though, make sure you have a nice detailed tree uploaded and this will help a lot. I love the future of Ancestral DNA and it’s only getting better and cheaper.
On National DNA Day, April 23rd, there was news that 23andMe was selling the “Complete Edition” of their genetic test for $99. The usual price for this test is $499, so a savings of 80%. I couldn’t pass up this deal since a) I am always curious about data and information b) I wanted to go deeper into my ancestry with DNA as I’ve only done basic tests. I also planned on getting it for my wife, also, but by the time we checked the site later in the evening the price was back to normal even though it was only about 8PM here.
Well, I sent in my sample and it says it will take 6-8 weeks for results. I got my results about 4 weeks later, so that was a surprise. The Complete Edition also includes the “Health” information, which is interesting. As they mention many times, I take all of that information with a grain of salt, even though there isn’t anything major to worry about in my results.
But, this site is less interested in what type of earwax I have or my Alcohol Flush Reaction and more interested in my Maternal and Paternal DNA information. I had previous known that my maternal line was H and my paternal line was R1a1. This gave me some insight into my genetic history, but it was a basic overview. I now know more details.
My maternal line has been traced in more detail to the H11a group. Their site describes it:
H originated in the Near East and then expanded after the peak of the Ice Age into Europe, where it is the most prevalent haplogroup today. It is present in about half of the Scandinavian population and is also common along the continent’s Atlantic coast.
My paternal line (or my Zalewski line) has been traced in more detail to the R1a1a subgroup.
R1a1a is the primary haplogroup of Eastern Europe, where it spread after the end of the Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. The haplogroup is most common in a swath from Ukraine and the Balkans north and west into Scandinavia, along the path of the men who followed the receding glaciers into Europe. It is also common near its presumed point of origin in south-central Asia. R1a1 is one of the two most common Y-haplogroups in Slavic-speaking populations.
That makes sense, since the Zalewski line traces back to Poland/Prussia, which is in the area mentioned.
The site also has a nice “Relative Finder” that will show you people who are more than likely closely-related to you based on your genetics. You can then send an introduction to them and if they accept, you can compare your basic results. I’ve sent a few intros to people who it predicts are somewhere between 3rd and 7th cousins to me. I have yet to receive a response, but it’s only been a few days.
All of the other info it gives like my “Health Traits” and my “Disease Risk” are interesting to browse. While they have useful info, such as certain risks, it shouldn’t (and doesn’t) affect my daily life due to the new nature of this field, but it’s nice to know.