Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Power in Projects

I finally got my own BIG Y test results back Monday night. Of the kits I personally am monitoring, 2 kits remain unreported. Those were contributed by my late father-in-law and my distant cousin George. Both of their results pages still project that their results will be available by March 28th. Cousin George has been asked to provide an additional backup sample "just in case" it is needed. I haven't heard anything about my father-in-law's test. That's a little nerve wracking since he is no longer available to provide another sample.

Trying to find meaning in BIG Y results can be overwhelming -- at least at first. I am fortunate enough to belong to a haplogroup R-L21 that has a very active project that is led by some extremely talented leaders who are incredibly generous in sharing their time and expertise. 

I downloaded my raw data Tuesday without a hitch but was a little unsure about the protocol for uploading it to my haplogroup project. BIG Y results are a lot like other genetic genealogy reports. Individual reports by themselves are essentially meaningless. However, they can take on powerful meaning when they are compared with the results of others.

After some investigation I discovered the appropriate way to upload my results to my project. For our R-L21 project which contains several hundred members, the process has been automated by talented volunteer members. This morning, within a couple of hours of uploading the zip file of my raw data, I got an email from James Kane, one of the volunteers:

Hi Dave,

It looks like you are in the S1026 group in case you hadn't already known. You will be in the Big Y Matrix later this morning.

James was true to his word. Later this morning I started showing up in various project reports along side six other men who share this SNP. This group will grow as more test takers report their results.

S1026 is one of the new SNPs reported in the last few months by James Wilson of ScotlandsDNA. Context in genetic genealogy is everything. Where is SNP S1026 located? So far I know that it is downstream, more recent, from SNP DF13 which was the most recent SNP for my parental line than I knew about yesterday. All of you reading this, except for 1 or 2, are scratching your heads and wondering what I'm talking about. How about a picture? Thanks to the tireless work of volunteer Mike Walsh I can show you one:

That is S1026 in the small red box at the bottom of the chart. Some of you may remember that a few days ago I discussed the movement of the Virginia Dowells down the SNP trail in the red box on the right side of this chart. On the vertical blue line that appears to bisect this chart, the Virginia Dowells branched off to the right and the Maryland Dowells continued to the bottom of the chart. So far we have been able to track my Maryland ancestors a step closer to the present to SNP S1026. 

Without the dedicated work and amazing expertise of those who lead our projects we would not be able to unravel the messages of our DNA. The haplogroup projects are a very powerful force in helping us learn. 

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