Y DNA testing carries a great deal of potential – for males. Why just for males? Because the Y chromosome is passed to sons, only, from the father. The Y chromosome is what makes males male. Females receive an X chromosome from their father instead of a Y.
This means that while men can easily test for Y chromosome results, women can’t. Women have to find a male of the surname line they are interested in to test on their behalf. If their father or brothers are living, finding a willing male for their birth name can be fairly easy, but in some cases, one has to go back up the tree a generation or two, and come back down another line to find a living male from your surname line to test.
In this example, if the female in red wants to test her Estes line, and green cells represent living Estes males, she would have to go up the tree to the third generation, Lazarus, and come back down three generations through son Charlie to find a living male.
Let’s say that living male Estes either can’t be found or isn’t interested in testing. To find another male, she would have to go up the tree another generation to John Y. Estes and come down through son Reagan where there are two generations of living Estes males.
That didn’t work either? Go up another generation and come down through son Jechonas to living male, William.
Why would someone be so interested in testing surname lines?
You can learn a lot.
- You can confirm that the person who tests actually descends from the expected surname line. Of course, this assumes two things. First, that others from that line have already tested and second, that the tester actually IS descended from that line. Sometimes males who carry the same surname have different ancestral lines. And sometimes, well, surprises are waiting to be found, meaning sometimes people aren’t descended from who they think they are.
- You receive a haplogroup designation which reaches back to ancient times. Haplogroups tell you, for example, if your ancestor was European, Native American, Jewish, African, or Asian. With additional testing, you can discover more specific information about haplogroups, but that requires testing that can’t be performed until after your haplogroup is discovered through regular testing.
- You receive your matches at each level of testing. If you test at 37 markers for example, you receive a list of matches at 37 markers, at 25 markers and at 12 markers. I recommend testing at 67 or 111 markers if possible, because those tests refine your matches even further.
- You receive a “Matches Map” that shows the locations of the oldest known ancestors of your matches.
- You receive a migration map, showing the path your ancient ancestors took to arrive where they are found today in the world.
There are more tools and information too. You can see, below, all of the available information for Y DNA testers on your Family Tree DNA personal home page.
As a female, I can’t test for even one Y line, but I can surely sponsor tests for men who do descend from my ancestral lines. I try to discover the genetic information for each of my lines. You never know what surprises may be lurking.
I have created a DNA pedigree chart where I record the haplogroup information for each of my ancestral lines.
When my cousins test for Y or mitochondrial lines, I also sponsor a Family Finder test, hoping that our autosomal DNA still matches, even though we are some generations removed from each other.
I try to find a male who has tested, or who will test, for each of my ancestral Y lines. You don’t know what you don’t know – and DNA testing is part of the reasonably exhaustive search required by the GPS, the Genealogical Proof Standard.
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