Big News! FamilyTreeDNA is delivering holiday gifts early!
Y DNA haplogroups are beginning to be delivered as a free benefit to men who took the Family Finder test at FamilyTreeDNA. This is the first wave of a staggered rollout. Haplogroup results will be delivered to several thousand people at a time, in batches, beginning today.
This is no trivial gift and includes LOTS of information that can be used in various ways for your genealogy. Please feel free to share this article. The new Family Finder haplogroups are another reason to take a Family Finder test and to encourage other family members to do so as well.
How is this Even Possible?
Many autosomal DNA processing chips include a limited number of targeted Y and mitochondrial DNA SNP locations. Generally, those locations are haplogroup predictive, which is how haplogroup information can be obtained from an autosomal DNA test.
Compared to the actual Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests, only a small fraction of the information is available through autosomal tests. Only the full sequence mitochondrial DNA test or the Big Y-700 test will provide you with the full story, including your most refined haplogroup, additional information, and matching with other customers.
Having said that, haplogroups obtained from Family Finder provide important clues and genealogical information that will hopefully whet recipients’ appetites for learning even more.
This first group of men to receive haplogroup results consists of testers who have purchased the Family Finder test since March 2019 when the most recent chip was put into production.
FamilyTreeDNA will be rolling haplogroups out in batches of a few thousand each day until everyone’s is complete, in the following order:
- Family Finder tests purchased since March 2019 (their V3 chip)
- Family Finder tests purchased between the fall of 2015 to March 2019 (their V2 chip)
- Family Finder tests purchased from 2010 to the fall of 2015 (their V1 chip)
- Autosomal uploads from other vendors for customers who have unlocked the advanced Family Finder features for $19
Uploaded DNA Files from Other Vendors
After the results are available for all males who have tested at FamilyTreeDNA, haplogroups will begin to be rolled out to customers who uploaded autosomal DNA files from other companies, meaning MyHeritage, Vitagene, 23andMe, and Ancestry.
To receive haplogroups for files uploaded from other vendors, the Family Finder advanced tool unlock must have been (or can be) purchased for $19. In addition to haplogroups, the unlock also provides access to the chromosome browser, myOrigins (ethnicity), Chromosome painting for myOrigins ethnicity, and ancient Origins.
Both MyHeritage and Vitagene tests are performed in the Gene by Gene lab. Those “uploads” are actually a secure business-to-business transaction, so the file integrity is assured.
Ancestry and 23andMe DNA files are downloaded from those companies, then uploaded to FamilyTreeDNA. Some people build “composite” files in the format of these companies, so FamilyTreeDNA has no way to assure that the original DNA upload file hasn’t been modified and it is a legitimate, unmodified, file from either 23andMe or Ancestry. Hence, in some situations, they are treated differently.
Both Ancestry and 23andMe utilize different chips than FamilyTreeDNA, covering different SNPs. Those results may vary slightly from results available from native FamilyTreeDNA tests, and will also vary from each other. In other words, there’s no consistency, and therefore haplogroup accuracy cannot be confirmed.
Haplogroups resulting from tests performed in the FamilyTreeDNA lab will be visible to matches and on the SNP pages within projects. They will also be used in both Discover and the haplotree statistics. This includes Family Finder plus MyHeritage and Vitagene DNA file uploads.
Tests performed elsewhere will receive haplogroups that will only be visible to the user, or a group administrator viewing a kit within a project. They will not be visible to matches, used in trees or for statistics.
Today, only Y DNA haplogroups are being provided, but after the new mitochondrial tree is available, customer haplogroups are updated, and MitoDiscover (my name, not theirs) is released, FamilyTreeDNA is planning to provide mitochondrial DNA haplogroups for Family Finder customers as well. The current haplogroup estimate is late 2024 or even into 2025.
STR Haplogroups to be Updated
All FamilyTreeDNA customers who have taken Y DNA STR tests, meaning 12, 25, 37, 67, or 111 markers, receive predicted haplogroups. Often, the Family Finder extracted results can provide a more refined haplogroup.
When that is possible, STR test predicted haplogroup results will be updated to the more refined Family Finder haplogroup.
Furthermore, while STR results are quite reliably predicted, Family Finder results are SNP-confirmed.
When your Family Finder test has received a haplogroup or your STR-derived haplogroup has been updated, you’ll receive an email notification with a link to a short, less than 2-minute video explaining what you’re receiving.
You can also expect emails in the following days with links to additional short videos. If you’d like to watch the videos now, click here.
You can also check your results, of course. If you should have received an email and didn’t, check your spam folder, and if it’s not there, notify FamilyTreeDNA in case your email has managed to get on the bounce list.
Group project administrators will receive notifications when a haplogroup is updated for a member in a project that they manage. This doesn’t just apply to Family Finder haplogroup updates for STR results – notifications will arrive when Big Y haplogroups are updated, too.
Emails about haplogroup updates will include both the old and the updated haplogroup.
Haplogroups may change as other testers receive results, forming a new haplogroup. The Big Y-700 test is evergreen, meaning as the Y tree grows, testers’ results are updated on an ongoing basis.
Let’s take a look at what customers will receive.
We have men who have taken the Big Y-700 test, STR tests only (no Big Y), and one with only a Family Finder test, so let’s compare all three, beginning with the man who has taken a Family Finder test but no Y DNA tests.
He has now been assigned to haplogroup I-BY1031, thanks to his Family Finder test.
Today, he does. Of course, he doesn’t have STR results or matches, but he DOES have confirmed SNP results, at least part way down the tree.
He can view these results on the Haplotree & SNPs tab or in Discover. Let’s look at both.
Haplotree & SNPs
By clicking on the Haplotree & SNPs link, you can view the results by variants (mutations,) as shown below, or by countries, surnames, or recommended projects for each haplogroup.
Of course, as more Family Finder results are rolled out, the more names and countries will appear on the Haplotree.
It’s easy to determine which haplogroup projects would be a good fit for people with these new haplogroups to join.
Just view by Recommended Projects, then scan up that column above the selected haplogroup. You can even just click right there to join. It’s that easy!
Results still won’t show on the public project page, because these testers don’t have STR results to display. Perhaps this will encourage additional testing in order to match with other men.
Download SNP Results
If you’re interested, you can download your SNP results in spreadsheet format.
I’m only showing four of my cousin’s positive SNPs, but FamilyTreeDNA was able to extract 358 positive SNPs to assign him to haplogroup I-BY1031.
Are Family Finder Haplogroups Better Than STR Test Predicted Haplogroups?
How do Family Finder haplogroups stack up against STR-predicted haplogroups?
We also know that the haplogroup determined by the Big Y-700 for this line is I-BY73911.
How can we use this information beneficially, and what does it mean?
Clicking on the Discover link takes you to your haplogroup story.
Haplogroup I-BY1031 is about 3100 years old and is found in England, Sweden, the US, and 14 other countries. Of course, as more Family Finder haplogroups are provided to customers, this information will change for many haplogroups, so check back often.
Of course, you’ll want to review every single tab, which are chapters in your ancestral story! The Time Tree shows your haplogroup age in perspective to other haplogroups and their formation, and Ancient Connections anchors haplogroups through archaeology.
You can share any Discover page in several ways. This is a good opportunity to excite other family members about the discoveries revealed through DNA testing and genealogy. Prices are reduced right now with the Holiday Sale, too, so it’s a great time to gift someone else or yourself.
Compare – How Good is Good?
I’ll use the Discover “Compare” feature to answer these questions.
First, let’s compare the STR-predicted haplogroup of I-M253 to the Family Finder haplogroup of I-BY1031.
I clicked on Compare and entered the haplogroup I wish to compare to I-BY1031.
|Haplogroup Source||STR Predicted||Family Finder||Big Y-700|
|Formation Year||2600 BCE||1100 BCE||1750 CE|
|Age – Years ago||4600||3100||270|
|Era||Stone Age, Metal Age||Metal Age||Modern|
|Ancestral Locations||England, Sweden, Germany, UK, +100||Sweden, England, US, +14||Netherlands|
|Branches||6779||69||0 – this is the pot-of-gold end leaf on the branch today|
I created this chart to compare the major features of all three haplogroups.
The STR-predicted haplogroup, I-M253, takes you to about 2,600 BCE, or about 4,600 years ago. The Family Finder haplogroup shifts that significantly to about 1100 BCE, or 3100 years ago, so it’s about 1500 years more recent. However, the Big Y haplogroup takes you home – from 3100 years ago to about 270 years ago.
Notice that there’s a LOT of room for refinement under haplogroup I-M253. A Big Y tester might wind up on any of those 6779 branches, and might well be assigned to a newly formed branch with his test. The Family Finder haplogroup, I-BY1031, which was, by the way, discovered through Big Y testing, moved the autosomal test taker forward 1500 years where there are 121 descendants in 69 branches. The Big Y-700 test is the most refined possible, moving you directly into a genealogically relevant timeframe with a very specific location.
I-M253 is found in over 100 countries, I-BY1031 in 17 and I-BY73199 is found only in one – the Netherlands.
Based on confirmed genealogy, the common ancestor of the two men who have Big Y-700 haplogroup I-BY73199 was a man named Hendrik Jans Ferwerda, born in 1806 in the Netherlands, so 217 years ago. Of course, that haplogroup itself could have been born a generation or two before Hendrik. We simply won’t know for sure until more men test. More testers refine the haplotree, haplogroup ages, and refine our genealogy as well.
Haplogroup Comparison and Analysis
Let’s look at the Discover “Compare” feature of the three haplogroups from my family line from the Netherlands. Please note that your results will differ because every haplogroup is different, but this is a good way to compare the three types of haplogroup results and an excellent avenue to illustrate why testing and upgrades are so important.
The haplogroup ages are according to the Discover Time Tree.
|Y-Adam to Haplogroup I1||I-M253 STR Haplogroup to I-BY1031 Family Finder Haplogroup||I-BY1031 Family Finder Haplogroup to BY73199 Big Y Haplogroup|
|Y-Adam (haplogroup A-PR2921) lived about 234,000 years ago|
|I-M253 lived about 4600 years ago|
|BY1031||I-BY1031 lived about 3100 years ago|
|I-BY73199 lived about 270 years ago|
All of the base haplogroups in the first column leading to Haplogroup I span the longest elapsed time, about 230,000 years, from Y-Adam to I-M253, the STR-predicted haplogroup, but are the least relevant to contemporary genealogy. They do tell us where we came from more distantly.
The second column moves you about 1500 years forward in time to the Family Finder confirmed haplogroup, reducing the location from pretty much everyplace in Europe (plus a few more locations) with more than 6700 branches, to 69 branches in only 17 countries.
With the fewest haplogroups, the third column spans the most recent 2800 years, bringing you unquestionably into the genealogically relevant timeframe, 270 years ago, in only one country where surnames apply.
If we had more testers from the Netherlands or nearby regions, there would probably be more branches on the tree between BY1031 and BY73199, the Big Y-700 haplogroup.
The second column is clearly an improvement over the first column which gets us to I-M253. The Family Finder upgrade from I-M253 to BY1031 provides information about our ancestors 3000-4500 years ago, where they lived and culturally, what they were doing. Ancient Connections enhance that understanding.
But the third column moves into the modern area where surnames are relevant and is the holy grail of genealogy. It’s a journey to get from Adam to the Netherlands in one family 270 years ago, but we can do it successfully between Family Finder and the Big Y-700.
Family Finder Matching
Given that these new haplogroups result from Family Finder, how do these results show in Family Finder matching? How do we know if someone with a haplogroup has taken a Y DNA test or if their haplogroup is from their Family Finder test?
- All Family Finder haplogroups will show in the results for people who tested at FamilyTreeDNA as soon as they are all rolled out
- All MyHeritage and Vitagene uploads, because they are processed by the Gene by Gene lab, will be shown IF they have purchased the unlock.
- No Ancestry or 23andMe haplogroups will be shown to Family Finder matches
The first man above received the Family Finder haplogroup. You can see he has no other tests listed. The second man has taken the Big Y-700 test. You can see that he has a different haplogroup, and if you look beneath his name, you’ll see that he took the Big Y-700 test.
For other men, you may see the 67 or 111 marker tests, for example, so you’ll know that they are available for Y-DNA matching. That may be important information because you can then visit the appropriate surname project to see if they happen to be listed with an earliest known ancestor.
After the rollout is complete, If you have a male Family Finder match with no haplogroup shown, you know that:
- They did not test at FamilyTree DNA
- If they uploaded from MyHeritage or Vitagene, they did not unlock the advanced Family Finder features
- Or, they tested at either 23andMe or Ancestry, and uploaded their results
You can always reach out to your match and ask.
How to Use This Information
There are several great ways to utilize this new information.
- First, Family Finder haplogroups are a HUGE timesaver.
I have a roadblock with my Moore line. Moore is a common surname with many, many origins, so I have autosomal matches to several Moore individuals who may or may not be from my Moore line.
I do know the base haplogroup of my Moore men, but I do not have a Big Y, unfortunately, and can’t upgrade because the tester is deceased. (I wish I had ordered the Big Y out the gate, but too late now.)
As soon as the results are complete for all of the testers, I’ll be able, by process of elimination to some extent, focus ONLY on the testers who fall into Family Finder haplogroup of my Moore cousins, or at least haplogroup close for Ancestry or 23andMe upload customers. In other words, I can eliminate the rest.
I can then ask the men with a similar haplogroup to my proven Moore cousins for more information, including whether they would be willing to take a Y DNA test.
- Second, as soon as the Family Finder processing is complete, I will know that all male Family Finder matches and uploads from MyHeritage and Vitagene that have paid for the unlock will have haplogroups displayed on the Family Finder Match page. Therefore, if there’s a male Moore with no haplogroup, I can reach out to see where they tested and if a haplogroup has been assigned, even if it’s from Ancestry or 23andMe and isn’t displayed in Family Finder.
If so, and they share the haplogroup with me, I’ll be able to include or exclude them. If included, I can then ask if they would consider taking a Y DNA test.
- Third, for lines I don’t yet have Y DNA testers for, I can now peruse my matches, and my cousins’ matches for that line. See items one and two, above. Even if they don’t reply or agree to Y DNA testing, at least now I have SOME haplogroup for that missing line.
Discover will help me flesh out the information I have, narrow regions, find projects, look at ancient DNA for hints, and more.
- Fourth, the haplogroups themselves. I don’t know how many million tests FamilyTreeDNA has in their database, but if we assume that half of those are male, some percentage won’t have taken a Y DNA test at all. We’ll be able to obtain Y-DNA information for lines where there may be no other living descendant. I have at least one like that. He was the end of the surname line and is deceased, with no sons.
I’m literally ecstatic that I’ll be able to obtain at least something for that line. If it’s anything like my example Netherlands lineage, the Family Finder haplogroup may be able to point me to an important region of Europe – or maybe someplace else very unexpected.
The Bottom Line
Here’s the bottom line. You don’t know what you don’t know – and our ancestors are FULL of surprises.
I can’t even begin to tell you how MUCH I’m looking forward to this haplogroup rollout.
To prepare, I’m making a list of my genealogical lines:
- If the paternal line, meaning surname line, is represented by any match in any database
- If that line is represented by a known person in the FamilyTreeDNA database and by whom
- If they or someone from that line has joined a surname or other FamilyTreeDNA project, and if so, which one
- If they’ve taken a Y DNA test, and what kind – watch STR results for an updated haplogroup
- If they’ve taken a Family Finder test – my cousin is a good example of a known individual whose kit I can watch for a new haplogroup
- Old and new haplogroup, if applicable
If my only relative from that line is in another vendor’s database, I’ll ask if they will upload their file to FamilyTreeDNA – and explain why by sharing this article. (Feel free to do the same.) A Y DNA haplogroup is a good incentive, and I would be glad to pay for the unlock at FamilyTreeDNA for cousins who represent Y and mitochondrial DNA lines I don’t already have.
One way I sweeten the pie is to offer testing scholarships to select lines where I need either the Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA of relevant ancestors. It’s a good thing these haplogroups are being rolled out a few thousand at a time! I need to budget for all the scholarships I’ll want to offer.
I feel like I won the lottery, and FamilyTreeDNA is giving me a free haplogroup encyclopedia of information about my ancestors through my cousins – even those who haven’t taken Y DNA tests. I can’t even express how happy this makes me.
What lines do you want to discover more about, and what is your plan? Tests are on sale now if you need them!
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