MyHeritage DNA Matching: Excellent Enhancements

MyHeritage has kept its promises: tree matching, pedigree display, a place for notes, and best of all, a chromosome browser. Plus the cousin matching is finally quite good, at least for your closer cousins, and includes some triangulation.

A very nice new feature is the Ethnicities Map, a menu item under DNA, which gives you the common groups for any modern day country you select. Since a question I commonly receive from family members is “Why doesn’t my known German ancestry show up?”, it is great to be able to show them this map:

A picture says it better than telling them that in the DNA, northern Germans look Scandinavian, southern Germans look Italian, eastern Germans look East European, and western Germans look French. My maternal ancestors lived at the crossroads of Europe!

Uploading your results from another DNA testing company is still free at MyHeritage and you get many of the DNA features. Personally I have just a data subscription and a small tree (there is a 250 person limit for unpaid members). In a few weeks I will create an account for a cousin and see if this works as well as it is supposed to for completely free members.

After the recent change, the segment details for my matches to my close family are very similar to what I see on GEDmatch and 23andme, same chromosomes, similar sizes, slightly different boundaries. This is a wonderful improvement!

Since my ancestors are all fairly recent immigrants from Norway and Germany, I was hoping for some international matches when I uploaded my DNA results to MyHeritage last year. In practice, as usual, there were no Germans (testing is not popular there), but plenty of Norwegian cousins that I already knew about, plus a few new distant ones.

However, I did recently get a new close cousin match (1C2R-2C1R), Melissa from New Jersey. I will use her match to investigate the new improved DNA matching.

After you log on to MyHeritage, click on Overview in the drop down menu under DNA in the bottom menu bar as in this image (red arrow is miy addition):

The top of the DNA page shows your picture (if you uploaded it) surrounded by the broad strokes of your ethnicity. None of the DNA sites are completely accurate, by the way, but the broad strokes are usually reasonable. I have zero British, etc, so that must be the German (think Saxons …) and some Norwegian (think Vikings …). My recent ancestry is known to be 50% Norwegian, 25% Jewish, and 25% Bavarian. However all the companies tell me that I got about 28% from my Jewish grandpa so this 30% is close enough.

Clicking on either the purple button View Full Estimate in the initial DNA page or Ethnicity Estimate in the drop down menu under DNA gets you to a page with a map and the breakdown. Clicking on a sub ethnicity to the left gives you some history about that group (scroll down to see it), but that is not today’s focus.

Back to the home DNA page. If you have uploaded multiple kits, scroll down to the heading “Other DNA kits.” Below that there will be a calling card type display for each kit that displays their main ethnicity and their number of matches.

I prefer to use my Dad’s DNA test when working with his Norwegian side. Clicking on his purple words “View 2880 DNA Matches,” takes me to a page with calling card-like displays for each match. Here is what I see for Melissa:

Notice that she has a tree with 61 people that includes 24 smart matches and my MUNSON surname! Next I click on match details and as I scroll down the page I notice the top bar with the contact listing follows me.

The first item  is the smart matches to her tree, the ones initially mentioned are not my direct ancestors but include my great-uncle Christian Munson.

The next display shows “Shared Ancestral Surnames”and now I see my great-grandfather! So I am getting more and more certain she is a MUNSON descendant.

Below that I see a list of our common matches and they are all MUNSON side family members! Eagerly I skip down to the pedigree view and there are my great-grandparents in her tree. I have put a red box around them in this image.

The Munsons in 1914, Alfred is the tall one back row, 2nd from the right (click for more Munson history)


Now I know that Melissa is from an estranged branch of the estranged branch of my Munson family. That long story started with her great grandfather Alfred, a musician who played piano in the silent movies, divorcing his first wife to marry his new love, met at the theater, back in the 1920s. The Munsons in my grandfather’s generation snubbed him for such scandalous behavior! Melissa actually has the wrong great-grandmother listed on her tree, she put in the first wife rather than Edith Walls, Alfred’s second wife, her actual ancestor.

Below the shared matches there is a nice shared ethnicity display. Further down the page there is a one-to-one chromosome browser comparison, but there is a better way, the triangulation feature.

Going back up the page to the common relatives, I pick my second cousin Dick who is also descended from Lauritz and Josephine Munson. Notice on the far right side for each relative in their calling card like display there is a funny looking icon. I have put a red box here:

This icon indicates that there are some triangulating segments. Clicking on that for Dick gets a page with an image of chromosomes 1-22 showing the shared DNA that both Dick and Melissa have with Dad. At the top of the page it shows the total centiMorgans and number of segments but that gets cut off as you scroll down the page. Here is how their one triangulation looks in the midst of their matching DNA segment comparisons with Dad.

Of course what I really want is to compare Dick to Melissa which I cannot do here. I would have to go back to my home page and select Dick’s kit which I manage and then find his match to Melissa.

All in all these are wonderful improvements and I noticed several new good matches today so off to go figure out their relationships!


11 thoughts on “MyHeritage DNA Matching: Excellent Enhancements

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  1. Kitty, I have a free tree and uploaded my results from Ancestry and I agree, the new tools are nice. However, I can’t be joyful about the ethnicities map, since they have me at 42% Scandinavian! Every test I’ve done to date has 2-3% Scandinavian. I’m OK with a percentage point here or there, but MyHeritage is so out of whack I ignore it.

  2. I am taken aback by no German and high numbers of Scandinavian.
    I have my family history and my family tree shows relatives living in a tiny area of Germany from the 1600s. I understand your comment the ethnicity efforts are in their infancy. But 23and me, ancestry and others acknowledge the German background. I would think my heritage would want to examine the tools they are using for estimating ethnicity, especially as most of my matches on this site are, you guessed it, German! Confusing.

  3. I actually have been following their blog. In january, it said an update to their ethnicity estimate would come within a few months… It hasn’t been mentioned since. If it hasn’t been delayed, it should be coming soon.

  4. Thanks for the update.

    The matching features are fantastic – now instead of just knowing someone is a shared match I can see how close the shared matches are to each other as well as how they share with me.

    So for example, instead of just seeing a list of names – I can tell how closely these shared matches are related to each other. My top match’s son is also in the system – and I know that because My Heritage showed me that Liz, the match I am looking at, and Denis, the match who is sharing with both of us, are sharing 3500 cM. This feature is so useful.

    The chromosome browser is also great – and the new triangulation hints are helpful. Before the new triangulation indicator was added, triangulation required testing each match against other shared matches.

    The triangulation still requires some trial and error as My Heritage will reject your triangulation group in it’s entirely if one match is not in the group.

  5. Hello. I recently uploaded my FTDNA autosomal data to various Various platforms as well as gedmatch. Hey all give me a similar ethnicity breakdown of about 35% British ,35% North-west European, 20% Scandinavian and 10% Eastern European. The one outlier was the results from My Heritage which gave me 92.1% English and 7.9% Eastern European
    My genealogy is well documented as 3/8 Scottish ( highlands) 1/8 Irish and 1/2 dutch.
    I am curious if anyone else has had very high English DNA results from My Heritage
    Thank you Bruce-harmen

    • At My Heritage, I am apparently 32.8% Irish/Scottish/Welsh and 13.8% English among other ethnicities. In fact I should be 0% of those ethnicities. Some of my ancestors, from long, long, long ago, must have carried DNA across the English Chanel. I don’t know how that would manifest as an estimate of ethnicity in the 21st century. I have a fairly significant branch of Frisians. That’s about as “West” as my European ancestors went before the post WWII era. (I do have several living British cousins… with German moms and British dads. I find all that alleged British Isles ancestry amusing.)

  6. I was very enthused about all the new tools on My Heritage. I recommended the site to someone. However, as we discovered today, if you test with My Heritage directly, these features are not available and you must pay a yearly subscription fee. You cannot see the trees of your matches nor contact them. We were very disappointed that after buying the actual kit from them, there is very limited site functionality.

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