Interesting New DNA Features at Ancestry

Do you know that Christa Cowan, Ancestry’s Barefoot Genealogist, posts Youtube videos every month describing new features? The changes that a number of readers have asked about were described in her June video. First of all there are some new DNA communities so go have a look at your ethnicity breakdown. These are based on some of the other 20 million DNA testers and their trees on the Ancestry site.

The other new item of interest is a change to the match list page. You are now asked if you know who your matches are. Some long-time users find this annoying, but it gives you a nice way to separate paternal and maternal matches when your parents are not both tested. It also lets you specify a specific relationship which is then listed for that person. Christa describes that feature about ten minutes into her June “What’s New at Ancestry” video below.

Those of us with German ancestry are excited by the new breakdown of those communities. Click here for Ancestry’s blog post about German DNA. My maternal grandmother was born in Munich to Bavarian Catholic parents. Apparently my brother got more of her DNA than I did, since I have much more from our Jewish maternal grandad: 34% as compared to Shipley’s 27% plus I get a Jewish community and he does not. By the way his Ashkenazi used to be only 22% and that is close to what both 23andme and MyHeritage find. To further investigate this, we convinced a Catholic half second cousin in Germany to do a DNA test. This was additional confirmation of our uneven maternal DNA inheritance, click here for that post.

This is the image of my brother’s latest ethnicity results which now include “Central and Southwest Germany” so perhaps Bavaria – red arrows are my addition. By the way, clicking on a community will not only tell you more about that history but will show you those matches who share it.

New ethnicities for my brother

Our father was 100% Norwegian in descent so my brother’s extra 10% Norwegian must be German. My Norwegian has now risen to 49% which pleases me. That plus the 1% Finnish are presumably from my dad.

Many users are starting to see the question “Do you recognize them? “ next to matches on their DNA relatives list with a Yes button and a Learn More button underneath.


The Learn More button just takes you to the match page as does clicking on the name or image at the left of the match listing.

If you click Yes, a side panel appears which asks you which side they are related on, mother’s or father’s. This is worth answering when you know, even if you are not sure of the exact relationship, because later you can use the maternal or paternal side in the groups filter to show all the matches you have assigned.

After clicking on the side a person is related on, a new panel comes up with possible relationships, including probabilities. If you do not know how you are related, just click the blue I’m not sure at the bottom of the panel. If you later figure it out, you can assign it from the page for your match by clicking the Add Relationship button under the match’s name as shown below.

Example match page with Add Relationship (my added red arrow)

The side panel that appears after you select mother’s or father’s side on the panel from the match list or from the match page Add Relationship suggests possible relationships based on the shared DNA. The probabilities that Ancestry has assigned to each are even shown! Once you assign a relationship, it appears on both the match list and match page; plus the green View Match button comes back. I really like being able to see the exact relationship.

I confess, i spent most of an afternoon assigning my family. I was helped by my color coding and my habit of putting the abbreviated relationship as the first thing in the notes about that person. That let me easily do them all from the match list page. Here is an excerpt from my completed list:


Happy clicking! This is my idea of fun …

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4 thoughts on “Interesting New DNA Features at Ancestry

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  1. Well, you’ve convinced me Kitty. I had not decided whether that new feature of assigning paternal and maternal was worth it. I’ve used the color coding for a long time and have hundreds assigned. Now I see more clicking in my future, as I sit here in front of my TV with my iPad. The TV stays on mute or pause anyway, most of the time. Why? Because I’m busy reading blogs and talking to friends. LOL! Thanks again for a great post.

  2. Question- with all of the changes at Ancestry.com & on their DNA site, did Ancestry.com get rid of being able to view (from a user’s/person’s Profile/Home page) through your list of people you manager their DNA whether or not they match with DNA and click on to view?

  3. I wish Ancestry would give us more choices for relationships. I’d like a number for cousinship, then let me pick number of removes; double, half, plus other more distant relationship(s)

  4. Great that communities are moving on to some of those of German origin. Hopefully they reach more soon. Many Old Lutherans left parts of what is now Poland for USA and some went to Australia. We are trying to re-connect. This could help.

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