Thursday, January 12, 2012
DNA—I Took the Plunge!
In November I did it—I took the plunge! Since I am promoting DNA testing as one means of determining ancestry, I decided it was time for me to be an example! Therefore, at the end of November I ordered the Family Finder DNA Test from Family Tree DNA and took the test. My results came back the end of December. Since that time I have been overwhelmed with the magnitude of my results and my lack of understanding of the genetics.
Perhaps, you recall from biology courses that the male has an X and a Y (XY) chromosome and the female has two X (XX) chromosomes. The Y chromosome is genetically passed to the male from his father with the X chromosomes passed to the male from his mother. The female receives two X chromosomes—one from her father and one from her mother. One of the popular DNA tests is the Y-DNA Test, which traces the paternal ancestors using the Y chromosome of the male. The Y-DNA Test is only for males. Therefore, females cannot trace their paternal lineage in the same way that males can with the Y-DNA Test.
As a female, I feel disenfranchised! Which test would address my needs? I decided on The Family Finder DNA Test that is appropriate for both males and females. It analyzes 22 autosomal chromosomes enabling one to connect with descendants including males and females about 5 generations back from all sixteen of the great-great-great grandparents. It will not provide the direct male or female lineage but will connect one with descendants from both the paternal and maternal ancestors. In addition, the results provide a percentage for 4 continental groups from which one’s ancestry originated. However, since the two tests analyze different aspects of the DNA, results from Family Finder cannot be compared with results from the Y-DNA. [i]
My results provided 245 matches of cousins from second through fifth. In addition, I was given their e-mail addresses so that I might contact them. After corresponding with a couple of “cousins,” I discovered that 245 matches must exceed the norm. In the future, I will receive notification as additional matches with me occur.
To my dismay, none of my matches had the West surname as his/her surname. Only one match had the West surname in his ancestry. Presently, even though I am certain there is a connection, I can’t make a connection with him in my research.
I have had positive interactions with those whom I have contacted. At this point, I have found only one “cousin” whom I can trace in my family trees. He is a 5th cousin 1X removed from my maternal grandfather’s family. Amazingly, I believe that his 3rd great grandparents lived across the street from my maternal grandparents. We are still exploring this phenomenon. Also, through lively e-mail correspondence the past few days, a couple of other “cousins” are busily helping each other and me determine how the three of us are related. Possibilities are endless! I’ll keep you informed.