Many people who see that their ethnicity estimate from a DNA test is way off, think that they cannot trust the other findings from that testing company. That is a false assumption.
When you are shown people who share DNA with you, aka DNA matches, they really are your relatives, although some can be quite distant. What the relationship actually is may not be predicted very accurately, as many relationships share similar amounts of DNA. Examples of that are a grandparent and an aunt or a 2nd cousin and a first cousin once removed. Thus you are usually shown a range of possible relationships. Figuring it out from shared matches and trees can be lots of fun!
Recently “Gail,” a DNA match to my South African 3rd cousin Sharon, contacted me. The only common ethnicity that was shown for them at their testing company was Ashkenazi Jewish. Thus she was assuming that their common ancestors were Jewish.
However the problem is that Gail inherited her 2.7% Jewish from her mother who does not match Sharon. Gail has no Jewish on her father’s side that she knows of. My cousin’s 28% Jewish is from her maternal grandmother. That is the line where Sharon matches me (click here for that story). Gail does not match any other of my many many tested family members on that line.
One of the issues that people of Northern European descent have is that our ancestors intermingled quite a bit. This means that your Scandinavian could be my English and I suspect that is the case here. Another problem is that unlike relative matching, predicting your biological ancestry from your DNA is far from an accurate science (click here for my most recent article of many on that subject)
More accurate than ethnicity are the shared relatives. When looking at the matches Sharon and Gail share, I found a set of common ancestors among them that are from a non Jewish South African line.
MyHeritage has added labels (colored dots) and favorites (stars) to the DNA matches lists. These are extremely similar to the ones at AncestryDNA. One advantage at MyHeritage is that when you select multiple colored dots to display, you are shown all the matches marked with either one, whereas Ancestry only shows the matches who have both. Another advantage is that MyHeritage gives you 30 colors as opposed to the 24 at Ancestry.
On a DNA match, the left are icons for the new features, labels and favorites, above the new location of the notes icon (red arrow my addition). Clicking the square for a label slides in a panel on the right as above.
The downside of the MyHeritage implementation is that you can only see and edit these colored labels on the DNA match lists, not on the actual match page or its in common with list. According to the blog post that My Heritage wrote on how to use this feature (click here), those pages will have the labels in the future. Also when you export your match list from MyHeritage there is no indication of those labels in the resulting CSV.
So how might you use this new feature? First of all, for myself, I use the favorites star for matches I want to come back to later. However when working on an unknown parentage case, I use the star for just the paternal side which is helpful for various automated tools.
If you have already assigned colored dots on Ancestry, my advice is to use the same colors on your MyHeritage labels for the same groups. Personally I have assigned a color to each great-grandparent line, except my Bavarian line which has very few testers and no matches that I can confirm other than the one 2nd cousin that I convinced to test.
Then I have a few fifth grandparents who seem to have many tested descendants that match us, so they get colors too. Next I assigned colors for as yet undetermined matches from the same localities that my ancestors are from, those include labels for Norway unknown, Germany unknown, and Ashkenazi unknown. Click here for my discussion of how I use the very similar the Ancestry labels.
MyHeritage has been producing a wonderful series of live presentations via their FaceBook page. At 11 a.m. Monday (tomorrow) California time I will be giving a talk on how to use the Theory of Family Relativity. If you come to this free lecture you might win a free DNA kit plus you can ask me DNA questions live.
Otherwise you can view it later by clicking on the videos tab on their page. I am amazed that my last video for them about finding cousins using DNA at MyHeritage had over 20K views!
In other news from MyHeritage, this year they finally have the ability to give a gift membership in time for the holidays and they have already started their Black Friday sale.
UPDATE 23-Nov-2020: The video of my talk is now available on the MyHeritage FaceBook page here:https://www.facebook.com/6572227821/videos/150034700143856 and the image above is linked to the slides. Plus here is the Black Friday sales link: this limited-time offer ends November 27, and the price is $39, plus free shipping on 2+ kits if ordering from this link.
Would you like to see me virtually, in person, and be able to ask me a question? I will talk about ‘Finding family with DNA at MyHeritage‘ on Wednesday July 29 at 11am PST (2pm EST) and then respond to queries. UPDATE: It is over but you can click here to view the video or click here for my slides https://slides.com/kittycooper/findingfamilydnamyh
I am very pleased to be a speaker in the MyHeritage Live series hosted on their FaceBook page at FaceBook.com/myheritage and hope to see some of you there. If you miss it, you can always watch it in the video section of that page later on. There are lots of great sessions available there from this series, check them out!
The Video Library on the MyHeritage FaceBook page
From the MyHeritage blog at https://blog.myheritage.com/2020/06/myheritage-online-events-for-june-july/
“You can participate in these sessions right from our Facebook page — no advanced registration required! Simply visit the Facebook page when the session is scheduled to start and look out for the live video broadcast at the top of the feed. You’ll be able to ask questions in the comments, and the speakers will respond to them live. “
UPDATE 28-JUL-2020: Once we are live I will post the link here and link this image to it also.
The live streaming from the MyHeritage conference in Amsterdam this past weekend was both informative and enjoyable. I was even able to watch without getting up in the middle of the night as they stayed available afterwards. Many of the talks included information that was not new to me, although I was pleased to finally be able to watch Leah Larkin’s WATO presentation.
The talk that impressed me the most was the one by Yaniv Erlich in the middle of day 2 about the DNA health results that MyHeritage is now providing (on a reduced price sale just through Tuesday, Sept 10). With the acquisition of Promethease and SNPedia they have greatly expanded their access to medical genetic knowledge. SNPedia is always my go to resource for looking up specific genes, for example click here to see what it says about the BRCA genes. While Promethease is where you can upload your raw DNA from wherever you tested to get health results (sadly written in formal medical talk) based on current but not always solid research (see comments below) and is linked to SNPedia.
One of the important take aways for me was that if MyHeritage finds a bad mutation in your test, they will use a different method, Sanger sequencing, to confirm the result! This almost completely eliminates false positives. Still if you are diagnosed with a really bad variation, my opinion is that you should double check even further by getting a doctor ordered test like the one from Color Genomics.
Yaniv also emphasized that they have worked hard to present the results in an understandable format. There are some examples of this on their blog (click here).