I really like a number of the features that have come out recently at Ancestry. My favorite is that the total amount of DNA shared with each DNA relative is now shown on the match list page in centimorgans (cMs). This means that you no longer have to click through to the match page to find that number. Those total cMs are needed in order to look up the possible relationships at the DNApainter calculator. You want to check there because the cousin designations at Ancestry are just groupings based on the amount of DNA and many relationships share very similar cM numbers.
Look at the current top of my 2nd cousin list. These are all children of my first cousins except C.S. who is the grandson of a first cousin. (spot quiz – what is my relationship to each of them? Answer at the end of this article). In each case it shows not only the possible relationship but also the actual cMs and the number of segments.
The other recent feature that I truly appreciate is that Ancestry.com indicates whether there is a family tree linked to the DNA, a tree that is not linked, or no tree at all next to the View Match button. In the past there would only be a tree listed when it was linked to the DNA, so you had to go to the match page to see if there was a family tree that was just not connected to the DNA. A word of warning about unlinked trees, they may not be for the tested person. One of my real second cousins did his DNA test through a friend’s account so he is not in their tree at all!
Did you notice that little blue compare icon under the green View Match button? Click on that to get a comparison of the ethnicity of two tests. It always fascinated me to see the amount of difference between two full siblings. Here I am compared with my brother (click it for a larger version).
A word of warning. A friend complained that his sister only had a tiny amount of XYZ heritage while he had a good 33%. I pointed out that her ethnicity had not been updated to the new version. Once that was done, she had a bit more XYZ than him!
Another benefit of this comparison is the much larger versions of the profile pictures which are on top of the ethnic breakdowns on that page. Space considerations got me to cut them off in my image above. However it is quite nice to get a better idea of what your match looks like than you get from the tiny picture on the match page.
Now for a discussion of the new traits feature …
I had to pay $9.99 for the new traits feature. It certainly whiled away an afternoon to look through them even if they were not all accurate. No I do not have a unibrow but then I hardly have any eyebrows at all. No my index finger is not longer than my ring finger. But yes my hair is wavy, so I grow it long to straighten it. My earlobes are attached and my eyes and skin are light and the rest of the traits seem accurate as well. Plus they list what you said when you were surveyed and allow you to change that response now.
Because many of us took those surveys about our traits, you can see what people with your ancestral groups report about that trait by clicking the box that says “Around the World.”
What was of more interest to me is the ability to look at shared traits with cousins, so I invited a few to also buy this. My wonderful second cousin John opted in. So much fun to see that he loves sweets too and tastes the bitters like I do, but neither of us perceive much umami. He has my hair type and iris type but no freckles and does not like cilantro.
Many people ask me what their genes mean and I usually answer “Who knows, who cares, it’s the matching cousins part that is the most interesting.” This feature starts to answer that question but it is only a start and nowhere near as comprehensive as 23andme. Plus not the same traits that DNA.land shows (yes I am a night owl!).
Answers to the spot quiz:
I like the G technique for figuring out cousins. Since I share grandparents with my first cousins there is only one G in the common couple (most recent common ancestors aka MRCAs) so they are first cousins. When I share great-grandparents there are two Gs so 2nd cousins. However the children of my first cousins have two Gs to the MRCAs , while I have one, so take the smaller number for the type of cousin and the numeric difference for the amount removed. Therefore those first three matches are all my first cousins once removed and C.S. is my first cousin twice removed.