Monday, July 9, 2012

Y-chromosomal and Autosomal DNA Sale at FTDNA

On the FTDNA website today a sale has been announced. This sale runs only for the rest of this week -- through July 15th. The details for the sale seem to be as follows:

37 marker Y-chromosome test:    now $129 (men only to test surname line)
67 marker Y-chromosome test:    now $199 (men only to test surname line)

"Family Finder" Autosomal test:   now $199 (either gender to test for close relatives)

What test one should take and who in a family should take it depends almost entirely on what genealogical question one is trying to answer. Generally a 37 marker test is a good place to start to determine whether a male of a given surname biologically belongs an established surname cluster. A 67 or even 111 marker test may be useful in narrowing down a specific line of descent within a family cluster. 

Family Finder tests are almost certain to find close cousins of either gender who have tested. More distant cousins may or may not show up as matches even if they are in the database. For example 2nd cousins are almost certain to show as matches. However, the probability of matching with an actual cousin who is is in the database decreases with each generation further back in time. very distant cousins may show up; but the probability of matching with a specific person who is more than a 5th cousin is less than 5%. You will sill get a lot of matches at this level because you have a lot of distant cousins. Even if you and a distant cousin both have well developed pedigree charts, it will be difficult to determine on which of your lines this match occurs.

I am not surprised that the Family Finder autosomal test is on sale now that there are now three competitors offering similar products---FTDNA, 23andMe and Ancestry.

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