Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Case for Using Family Finder in a Surname Project

Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and IrelandMembers of the Taylor Project have almost all participated by means of y-DNA testing. You submitted a sample, provided a basic pedigree and the name of your earliest know Taylor ancestor and now (ideally) you are matched with a group of Taylors. Your group descends from a single line and the other group members are your cousins.

In an ideal world, you know your exact relationship with each member of your Taylor group. Knowing this relationship, each of you can now claim your combined paper trail of lineage.

Isn’t that why you have participated in DNA testing?

Well, it doesn’t always work out like that. And you, dear reader, may be one of the people who is an exception to the ideal portrayed above. This is where the Family Finder test can be of great benefit. The Family Finder test looks at autosomal DNA, which is inherited from all of your lines of descent, not just the male-to-male lineage of y-DNA or the female-to-female lineage of mitochondrial DNA. It is a way to investigate all your lines.

I’m writing this because there is a price reduction on this test for current FTDNA members. Take advantage of a major price reduction through June 22nd.

What can the Family Finder test contribute? Let’s look at several situations.

First, you are a male Taylor, you have a fairly close match with other Taylor project members, enough to form a group, but you don’t know your exact relationship. If you and others in your group do the Family Finder test (henceforth FF), you can close in on your relationship. For example, if your y-DNA suggests a 50% likelihood of a common ancestor within 6 generations, doing the FF will indicate if your common ancestor is within seven generations (the equivalent of 5th cousins) and suggest the number of generations between you. This should focus on exactly where to look for the paper trail indicating a common ancestor. It also may help identify a relative who has not yet tested who would be “the missing link.”

Second instance, you are a female Taylor. You don’t have any y-DNA, and you don’t know any living male Taylors of your line. Doing the FF test will allow you to match with Taylor males currently unknown to you. You can then use their Taylor group, from their y-DNA results, to work towards your earliest Taylor ancestor.

Third instance, you are a male Taylor. Your y-DNA did not match any Taylor line, but did match another surname project. The evidence is pretty conclusive that one of your male ancestors carried the name Taylor, but was not biologically a Taylor. However, you do not know when that NPE (non-parental event) occurred. Was it in your generation? Five generations? More? With the FF test, you can compare your results with other known Taylor relatives, second cousins, great aunts and uncles. If you match them, the likelihood is that the NPE occurred prior to the births of all those tested, and that a common ancestor of all of yours came subsequent to the NPE. (However this inference cannot extend beyond seven generations due to limitations of the testing, nor can it extend beyond the parameters of your individuals sampled.)

Fourth instance, you are a male with a non-Taylor surname. Your y-DNA matched the Taylor line in multiple close matches. You don’t know when the NPE occurred. You do the FF test. If you match a Taylor group with the FF in addition to y-DNA, this suggests the NPE occurred within the last seven generations. It may be fewer generations depending upon the FF results. At least you can begin to discover your roots.

Finally, what about the unique individual who has tested 67 y-DNA markers and mt-DNA and has no matches? I know one of these people. We hope with the FF test to finally find someone who matches!

I look forward to us all finding out our ancestry.


1 comment:

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