Father’s day is always an occasion for the DNA testing companies to offer discounts on their kits and this year is no different. Give Dad a DNA kit is the message. Why should you? Well his autosomal DNA might find cousins you had lost track of, discover ethnicity you were curious about, or solve an unknown parent mystery. After all, he is one generation closer to your ancestors. I tested my late father long ago and am grateful to have that information. Click here for my evaluations of the different autosomal testing companies.
Dad and I in about 1953 (he was in the Air Force)
Only men have a Y chromosome and there are tests for just the Y. Those tests can give you information about your surname and your deep father line ancestry. Family Tree DNA is the place to test just the Y although both LivingDNA and 23andme will give you a high level Y haplogroup, plus there are tools to determine the haplogroup from an AncestryDNA or MyHeritage test (discussed at the end of this post).
If you know what a Y haplogroup is you can skip this paragraph … The 23rd pair of chromosomes is an XX for a woman and an XY for a man. The problem or benefit is that there is no second Y for that Y to recombine with. Thus unlike the other 22 chromosomes a man’s parents give him, the Y is unchanged from his Dad’s and his Dad’s and his Dad’s and so on, except for mutations. Those little changes accumulate over thousands of years and allow scientists to catalog the Y and trace the migration of mankind around the globe. Each set of Y mutations is assigned to a haplogroup, and subgroup, which can tell you where your ancestors came from thousands of years back. Here is the latest diagram from the
wikipedia article on Y
Y haplogroup world expansion – start at the big Y in Africa (A was the first haplogroup) -image from wikipedia by Maulucioni [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]
If you are of European origin then click here for the Eupedia articles on each haplogroup
Today being the last day of the year, I always sit down and give money to the charities I care about, online of course. My husband even let me give to my local PBS station since I watch their evening news most nights as well as many other programs like Downton Abbey, Keeping Up Appearances, and Nova.
This year I also gave to a fascinating DNA project; the ongoing search for Y haplogroup A00 and its branches in Cameroon. I love crowd funding; what a fun way to support those things that interest you. Click the image to join me supporting this one.
Here is an excerpt from the email my facebook friend genetic genealogist Bonnie Schrack sent out recently which caught my eye:
“On our next field trip, in January, Matthew will sample peoples to the
West, the Banyang and Ejagham.
Our exciting news is that Thomas Krahn will be traveling to Cameroon in
January, and will accompany Matthew! They’ll also visit villages
previously sampled, to return results to the men already tested,
something almost never done in traditional academic studies. We, as
genetic genealogists, see them as individuals, not just sources of raw
material. They are interested in learning about their paternal lineages,
and we are trying to learn as much as possible about the A00-bearing
families and their history.”
The Y haplogroup A00 was discovered by citizen scientists and that truly excites me. The history of the migrations of our ancestors is written in our DNA and I really love being part of this.
Esto’s cartoons often really hit the spot. This one really reminds me of my husband and myself.
Cartoon by Esto Frigus of Geneapalooza, used by permission
When I told my 98% Ashkenazi husband that his Y-DNA haplogroup (E1a1 aka E-M44) probably originated in Timbuktu, he started dancing around the room shouting “I am black!”
The new Y tree released this past week by Family Tree DNA has dropped all those horrible long names like R1b1b1a1 and replaced them with the main Y haplogroup followed by the terminal SNP. This had long been suggested as a better nomenclature. The downside is that you have to look at a chart to see how an R-P311 might be related to an R-P312 but it is worth it for the simplification of the name. Although I think we R1b’s are used to being different from the R1a’s and I would prefer that we were R1b-P312
The new Y tree combines the research of Family Tree DNA and the Genographic project. The press release and its highlights are published on Emily Aulicino’s blog:
and Debbie Kennett’s blog goes into deeper details:
But what does this mean for us R1b Munsons? Are we Scottish or Germanic? Where did our earliest known paternal line ancestor, Mons Knutson Titland 1665-1725 , who farmed a little north of Bergen, come from? Does our Y DNA tell us?
There is a wonderful site at http://www.y-str.org with many good tools for Y DNA and autosomal DNA that run as programs on your PC plus a cool ISOGG Y tree add-on for the Chrome browser. My specific interest at the moment is figuring out which Y SNPs are already tested by 23andme so as not to test them again at FamilyTreeDNA since my Dad has kits at both places. I blogged about how to do that manually back in February, but now there is a program that will do that for you. However it took me a while to figure out how to do what I wanted from the instructions given, so I will do a step-by-step tutorial in this post in order to remember what I did.
First download your raw data from 23andme by going to the “Browse Raw Data” Page which is listed in the menu that appears under your name on the top right. Then on the raw data page click on “Download” in the second top bar on the right hand side. This takes you to a page with various warnings and requires that you reenter your password as well as the answer to your secret question before it starts the download.
Save the download file somewhere that makes sense for you. I have a folder called RawData in the folder DNA that I use. Once the raw data file is downloaded, you will need to unzip it before using it with the various tools. To unzip in windows all you need to do is open a file explorer window (a manila envelope is the icon) and then right click on the file name to get a little menu that includes “extract all” which is the one to click.