Power-Up Your DNA Analyses
The DNA Geek | Mixing science and genealogy
by thednageek
1w ago
AncestryDNA recently introduced Enhanced Shared Matches, a new feature in their Pro Tools add-on subscription that is taking the DNA world by storm.  Pro Tools has some nifty tree-checker tools and reports, but genetic genealogists are most excited by the ability to see how much DNA our matches share with one another.  Other databases, like 23andMe, MyHeritage, and GEDmatch, have had similar features for years, but the sheer size of AncestryDNA’s database makes ESM especially exciting. Here’s a snippet of what you can see: This information is proving invaluable for placing those fru ..read more
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Low Matches Lie
The DNA Geek | Mixing science and genealogy
by thednageek
1M ago
Once you get below 20 cM, a match is more likely to be a 10th cousin than a 4th cousin. Sounds nuts, right?  How is that possible when most of our distant cousins don’t share any DNA at all?  Let me explain. It’s absolutely true that beyond 2nd cousins, some of our biological relatives will not share measurable autosomal DNA with us.  There’s about a 7% chance that a true 3rd cousin will not match.  For 4th cousins, it’s about 50%.  Only about 16% of our 5th cousins will match, and the odds of matching obviously go down from there. On the flip side, we have a lot more ..read more
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Is Your Family Tree Biologically Correct?
The DNA Geek | Mixing science and genealogy
by thednageek
3M ago
You know you’ve wondered; we all have:  Is my family tree biologically correct?  All of it? I can easily prove that my social parents are also my biological parents because both have done DNA tests and match me as expected. I can just as easily conclude that all four of my grandparents are who I think they are thanks to DNA matches to an uncle and some closer cousins. But my confidence level decreases with each generation back as the DNA matches become more distant and the shared DNA amounts less predictive of specific relationships.  For example, I have a 2nd cousin once remov ..read more
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Share Your DNA Results at MyHeritage
The DNA Geek | Mixing science and genealogy
by thednageek
3M ago
MyHeritage now allows their DNA customers to share their DNA results with a collaborator.  This is great news for everyone who does genealogy with a friend and especially for those of us who help others break down brick walls using DNA results! Sharing allows your collaborator to see your ethnicity estimate, genetic groups, and DNA match list; to message your DNA matches; and to edit your family tree.  To protect your privacy, your collaborator will not be able to download or delete your raw DNA data, invite anyone else to view your results, or change your settings. Your collaborator ..read more
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Gordon Revisited
The DNA Geek | Mixing science and genealogy
by thednageek
5M ago
Several years ago, I helped an adoptee I called “Gordon” identify his biological father.  (Gordon is a pseudonym, as are all other names in this post.)  Gordon already knew that his birth mother was Helene Mills, the daughter of Oscar Mills and Florence Mattieson and the sister of Chris, Tony, and Michael. Gordon’s case was particularly tricky, because he had long sections of DNA where he’d inherited the exact same genetic information from both parents.  These so-called “runs of homozygosity” (ROH for short) indicated that the only candidates for his father were his own grandfat ..read more
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Thank You!
The DNA Geek | Mixing science and genealogy
by thednageek
6M ago
This blog started in 2016 on a whim.  Genetic genealogists seemed eager to learn about the science and math behind our DNA tests, and I love to teach.  That perfect alignment of interests has motivated me ever since.  Over the years, the blog has expanded to cover not just science and math but also case studies, changes in the DNA industry, ethics, and new methods for genetic genealogy.  I always strive to make complex concepts easy to understand. I have also broadened my teaching outreach to local, national, and international conferences and genealogy societies; institutes ..read more
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Introducing BanyanDNA!
The DNA Geek | Mixing science and genealogy
by thednageek
7M ago
This is a copy of the first BanyanDNA newsletter, delivered 9 December, 2023.  You can sign up for the newsletter here. Welcome to the inaugural newsletter for BanyanDNA, the next generation of DNA analysis! BanyanDNA is unlike any other tool for genetic genealogy. Not only can it help you identify an unknown parent, grandparent, or great grandparent, it can alert you to places in your tree where shared DNA does not support the documented relationships. Best of all, it is completely customized to your family, whether you have pedigree collapse, double cousins, or (in a future release) en ..read more
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DNA Doesn’t Lie, but It Sometimes Speaks in Riddles
The DNA Geek | Mixing science and genealogy
by thednageek
8M ago
“Danielle” was a participant in my recent lecture to the Eastside and South King County (Washington State) genealogical societies, and she has an interesting family situation.1  Danielle shares only 944 cM with her granddaughter Lisa, well below what we expect for that relationship.  Of the more than 1,100 data points in Blaine Bettinger’s Shared cM Project, the lowest reported value for grandparents is 984 cM.  In fact, at first glance, the match between Danielle and Lisa appears to be a first cousin, half-niece, great-niece, or great-granddaughter, rather than a grandpare ..read more
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Seventy Four Point Five
The DNA Geek | Mixing science and genealogy
by thednageek
9M ago
Okay, I’m not happy about it, but it’s happened:  23andMe has removed the chromosome browser from their features after the recent “credential stuffing” attack.  The chromosome browser is the tool that lets us see which segments we share with our DNA relatives.  MyHeritage has done the same, although they haven’t publicly stated why. Briefly, a cybercriminal was able to access some accounts whose owners “recycled” their login credentials, meaning those owners used the same email address and password combination at other sites on the web, where they were compromised.   E ..read more
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The 23andMe Hack
The DNA Geek | Mixing science and genealogy
by thednageek
9M ago
By now, you’ve probably heard that 23andMe was “hacked” by criminals who stole the data of up to 7 million users.  Technically, it wasn’t a hack; 23andMe’s security systems weren’t breached.  Rather, the criminals acquired emails and passwords from lapses at other websites then logged in to 23andMe accounts that used the same login credentials.  This kind of attack is called credential stuffing. What data exactly did the crooks get?  That’s a great question.  23andMe has been tight-lipped about those details, but we can guess.  For the customers whose login creden ..read more
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