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Can Y DNA Solve an Unknown Parentage Case?

Sometimes testing the Y chromosome can help when you are looking for a missing father, grandfather, or further back as long as you have a tester descended on the male only line. Remember the Y is passed father to son, so any changes are rare and are caused by mutations not recombination. Typically a man would start with a Y 37 STR marker test at Family Tree DNA to see if this avenue is worth pursuing. A STR test gets the most recent changes rather than the haplogroup, thus can suggest a surname. Click here for my article explaining Y testing.

Slide from my 2017 talk on DNA testing for genealogists featuring my maternal grandad

The Y results will not help if no other men from that Y lineage have tested unless you have a theory. In that case you need to test someone else descended on the male only line from the presumed ancestor.

Y testing can be very useful when the unknown parentage occured many generations ago, such that autosomal testing may not be able to solve it.

If your ancestors have been in the USA for some time then a Y 37 STR marker test may find a probable last name. In that case there may be a surname project with other Y testers at Family Tree DNA. I recommend contacting the admins of that project as they can often be a great help in your quest. However if you are from a population group which has only had inherited surnames for two hundred years or less, quite likely you will have no luck.
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Why Y?

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.

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End of Year Giving

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.

Finding A00 in Cameroon

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.

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Y haplogroup humor

Esto’s cartoons often really hit the spot. This one really reminds me of my husband and myself.

Geneapalooza Male Line

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!”

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The new Y tree at Family Tree DNA and our Munson R-P312 Y

MunsonNewYThe 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:

http://genealem-geneticgenealogy.blogspot.com/2014/04/family-tree-dna-2014-y-dna-haplogroup.html

and Debbie Kennett’s blog goes into deeper details:

http://cruwys.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-new-2014-y-dna-haplotree-has-arrived.html

 

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?
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