A Sneak Peek at 23andMe’s New Ancestry Features

Over the next three days, a crack team from 23andMe will be at the annual Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree in Burbank, to inject even more fun into the event while also offering tips on using genetics in genealogical searches.Most exciting for us is that the team is offering a sneak peek to a host of cool new ancestry features that we’ll be launching in a test format in the coming weeks. We’ll be signing up attendees at the conference to do beta testing of the new features as we make them ready for a broader release in the near future.But you can get a look at what’s to come here.The first thing that will change is how we surface the collection of ancestry tools we offer users. Now when you click on My Ancestry Page, you’ll get a dashboard summary giving you a quick overview of things like your overall maternal and paternal line ancestry, a summary of recent changes to your Relative Finder matches and sometimes hard-to-find ancestry gems.

To dig deeper into your ancestry, a few of our scientists have overhauled the Ancestry Painting V2 analysis, which we believe is the most accurate breakdown of your genetic ancestry now being offered anywhere. Previously we “painted” individuals ancestry by displaying their Asian, African and European ancestry. Our Ancestry Painting will soon draw from approximately 20 different world regions, creating much finer detail of your genetic ancestry and break down European ancestry and differentiate between Native American and Asian ancestry. Here’s an example of the results from our friend Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who is also the host of the recent 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots.

Another enhancement includes a turbo charged upgrade of how results are displayed in our popular Relative Finder tool. A new Relative Finder Geographic Map View offers you the chance to display your matches on a world map. This can be incredibly helpful for anyone on a genealogical hunt who must triangulate between multiple different sources of information about their ancestry. In this case we show how your relatives cluster on a world map, which in turn can help you target your search for relatives.Finally, we’ve added another essential tool for those interested in ancestry with a new Family Tree.

The beauty of this the new tree is that it offers a easy to use and intuitive way to store a profusion of family history. For those who use other ancestry services, they can import their GEDCOM data into 23andMe’s new family tree tool.  You’ll be able to enter into the Family Tree relevant dates, life events, professions and other data.We believe that these new features and enhancements will be both helpful and fun in your exploration into your own ancestry with 23andMe. Stay tuned for the release and if you’re in Burbank this weekend drop by our booth (#706 and #707).
  • Samuel

    Current 23andme users can use this update too?

    • ScottH

      Samuel, Thanks for the question. We haven’t yet released the Beta test. The images in the post are screen shots of our internal testing. We plan to release the new features and enhancements in the near future and will let the 23andMe community know when they’re ready to use.

      • ScottH

        Samuel, One more point to make is that when the new features go live they will be available to all 23andMe users as part of the regular features they enjoy on the site. Thanks again for the question.

  • Anthony Parker

    Why does Dr.Gates have the same percentages? I would think his percenatages would change if they updated it. Why does he have so much more European(60%) than African(34%)? Sure he has white ancestry,but I find it a little hard to believe that he has THAT MUCH MORE white ancestry than black ancestry. Why does he have so much more SOUTHERN European(50%) than Northern European (10%)? That doesn’t make sense, you’re saying there were THAT many more Portuguese and Sapniards and Italians in the United States back then than there were whites from the British Isles and Dutch and Germans? If you watch Dr. Gates’ speeches, he asks blacks about having Native American ancestry then he tells them, “None of ya’ll have Native American ancestry,it’s a myth, the average slave didn’t even see a Native American.”, so I guess this means it’s not a myth for him,but I’m not all that sure. Are you sure this 6% is REALLY Native American and not miscalculated African? Does 23andme now have adequate enough reference populations from BOTH Africans and Native Americans to say so? The paragraph above says it can now differentiate between Native American and Asian, but will it stop miscalculating African? Does it have more African references than just Yoruba?

  • Anthony Parker

    I understand that just about all blacks whether they are African Americans or Africans from Africa,west or East, get “Asian” percentages. If we see Africans from Africa now getting “Native American” percentages than we know 23andme still has a way to go on their ancestry.

  • Anthony Parker

    I hope they gave Dr. Gates “6% Native American” because he REALLY has Native American and not just “Oh, we can now tell Native American from Asian,you don’t have Asian, so it must be Native American”,not saying that it can still be miscalculated African!

  • Kaela

    Great! You offer and have thought of nearly everything, but I wonder… who will be the first to offer pet services? Bet you didn’t think of that!

  • Anthony Parker

    Sometime I’d like to see what the additional reference populations are.

  • Samuel

    Thanks, ScottH.

  • Isaac Davis

    Looks great,i would like to be a beta tester if possible.I cannot make the conference though,and would you say these features will be released to 23andme users before a years time?Thanks

  • Tom

    Please tell me it’s HTML5 and not Flash?!

  • AD

    Very excited about the new changes. What would be absolutely fantastic, would be for each 23andme customer to get their very own “3 degrees of cousin separation data” from amongst the 23andme database membership. A summary for each degree of separation, like ” you are related to x individuals within y degrees with a1% of these x individuals having east Asian ancestry etc etc. “. With such a feature, not only does a customer have the ability to explore close relationships through relative finder but they literally get the picture, how they fit into the overall mass of humanity.

  • This is very cool stuff and I’d like to show you some more cool stuff along these same lines. The Atlas of Genetic Genealogy has many data driven, interactive maps and charts putting ancestral genealogy into a socioeconomic and environmental sustainability context. Is there a way of incorporating these visualizations into what 23andme is creating? I would be delighted to donate the data compilation and visualizations for the benefit of our growing community. BFN

  • I agree with Tom above. Please use something other than Flash or have a choice. I can’t get Flash on my ipad.

  • Bobo

    Unfortunately they still do not test for Middle Eastern ancestry at all, in fact, the CSR told me “there is no such thing.” What??

    If 23andme can test for 20 new regions why not test against populations from the Middle East, Northern Africa, Palestine, Bedouin, etc.? I do not understand that.

  • Stacey Siepmann

    First off, I agree with Tom and Jill, every portion of the 23 and Me site needs to be iPad friendly.

    This is going to be great. I would love to be in the Beta test because I am also an Ancestry.com DNA Beta tester. It would be interesting to compare the two and see where they are similar and where they diverge.

    Ancestry.com is touting that they can get all the genetic info from one sample and not need a male relative sample if the person doing the testing is female. Will 23andMe be able to do that also or will you still need a male genetic specimen for any female?

    If we already are a member, how much is this analysis going to cost?

    Can this be done using SNPs only or is it going to include more genetic information?

    I have already been in some contact with distant cousins through 23andMe. Is there any way for the genetics to show where a branch separated?

    Is going to be a fine enough program that it could tell me what clans in Scotland and septs in Ireland some of my British Isles relatives were in and how long they diverged from their clans?

    Would it be able to show specifically from where the 8% of my relatives who are Finnish-Volga-Uralic come? The Ancestry.com map just show a great big area containing Finland, Russia down to Georgia and east to central Russia.

    Looking forward to the 23andMe version.

  • ChipolteSpice

    Anthony Said:

    -If you watch Dr. Gates’ speeches, he asks blacks about having Native American ancestry then he tells them, “None of ya’ll have Native American ancestry,it’s a myth, the average slave didn’t even see a Native American.”, so I guess this means it’s not a myth for him,but I’m not all that sure. Are you sure this 6% is REALLY Native American and not miscalculated African?.-

    He probably does not. Native American ancestry is not common in White Americans as believed, let alone Black Americans who were a much smaller population. I highly doubt as well he has Southern European ancestry especially when he traced his European heritage to *Irish* ancestors.

    Instead of Asian noise, it now becomes Native American noise? This is lovely. For Black African Americans? Every African American on 23andMe has Asian in their painting and will now most likely turn to Native American. I’ve only met a handful, if that on 23andme who were African American who could actually produce a Native ancestor.

  • Greg Reed

    There is a great deal on your site about tracking Europeon and African testing, but not as much on native American. To what depth is the test for American Indian? Just a general confirmation that someone is “x”% native American or is there more specific analysis as to region or tribe?

    • ScottH

      Greg, We do have a Native American Ancestry Finder tool, which is in the Ancestry Labs section of the site. In addition as part of the update to our ancestry features in the coming weeks, we will have more detailed results for Native American ancestry. That said we cannot currently say much about the region or the tribe. Part of the issue is that there are few Native American reference populations to use in making those determinations. Thanks for the comment and questions.

  • Bailey

    Is there a time estimate on when these features will be released?

  • Samuel

    Can I be a beta tester too?

    • ScottH

      Unfortunately we’re no longer taking new beta testers, but the package of new ancestry tools will be released in mid-July and everyone will get a chance to try them out.

  • Deb

    Actually, historians estimate that in the 1700s there were 50,000 Native Americans shipped out of Charleston SC *alone* as slaves, with Boston, NYC and Philadelphia also serving as active slave ports.

    There was a story in the news a year or so ago about a British woman who tested and found she had a Native American ancestor. Records eventually showed her ancestor was brought to England as a slave and produced children with a British woman. There were *thousands* of Native slaves in Britain in the 1700s.

    Indian slaves can be found in the court records all up and down the East Coast from New York City to Georgia. Entire groups in the Carolinas and interior Southeast were wiped off the map by slaving. Slavers would kill the old, the men and small kids and take the women and children of working age.

    I have copies of a document from 1712 where a head man in a Tuscarora Village, which had been entirely peaceful, was forced between killing all the males over 14 in an adjacent village (who were relatives) or turning over his own wife and children to the British as slaves.

    Native slaves and African slaves lived, worked, ate and slept together. Saying that an African slave probably never saw an Indian might have been true in 1860, it certainly was not the case for the first 100-125 years of Colonialism. These Native snippets of DNA might be difficult to pick out after 300 years of admixture, but investigation of court records of the period will tell you they are there.

    I’ll look forward to 23 and Me’s better tools, the ones they have now are completely inadequate. My son tested so his Native markers would be reduced by 50% from mine anyway, but he has enough that it ought to show up. It shows up on GedMatch.


  • David Torres

    So we’re in the middle of August now. When will the Ancestry Painting V2 Analysis be available? I can’t wait any longer.


    • ScottH

      We’re getting close to upgrading Ancestry Painting. We’ll be putting up a post on the blog and in our community pages when it’s ready. It’s now out of the R&D stage and we’re now actively working on incorporating the new engine into the website.

  • Bob

    Do you know when exactly you will have South Asian or Indian continent DNA available? I would like to do a second test besides the one I took on family finder.
    Also will there be an coupons available soon?
    Bob Naylor

    • ScottH

      Thanks for the comment. In our upcoming upgrade of Ancestry Painting we will include South Asian populations.
      Here’s an update from our team that was posted in our community pages:
      “We’re excited to announce that we are out of R&D phase for this project – this means that we are now actively working on incorporating the new engine into the website. We are also working on new ways of presenting your results.
      “While we’re not yet ready to reveal the exact populations that we’ll be adding, there will be many more, and with higher accuracy – for example, there will now be separate populations for Native American and for South Asian ancestry.
      “We’re looking forward to being able to share this with you. Please stay tuned for more updates as we continue to make progress.”

  • Bob

    There is no way Dr.Gates is 60% European; the last time I heard he was 51% European!! At that high level you would not see or barely see Negro features and the skin tone would be lighter and hair texture would not be as kinky. 23andme analysis seems to be really flawed!!
    For more accurate analysis and if you have any East Indian ancestry their test goes back 5 to 6 generations. I can bet any of you if you present your test there, your results will be more accurate and vastly different than 23andme!

  • Stacey

    I am going to order a kit soon. My family recently got results from a different site. We are black and always knew about our different blood lines. We are 6% native American, 11% European, and 80% west African from different parts of Africa and tribes. My great great great grandfather was a white Irish slave owner who had kids with my ancestor. My white cousins found my family years ago. We knew nothing about them. So for everyone saying blacks or African Americans don’t have native American or European blood, get a life. Read up on slavery, and how them slave women gave birth to mulatto babies from being raped by whitemen. Also, some slaves were owned by native Americans too, members of the 5 civilized tribes. So yes most blacks do have some native blood, not all. My family sure does.

  • 23blog

    There isn’t an easy way to do that, unfortunately. We are working with MyHeritage to allow people to migrate their family tree information to their service. You can in turn download from MyHeritage a Gedcom file that has your family tree information. Not ideal, I know, but that would get you what you want.

  • Jane Peters

    Can you tell a Chinese person from a native America yet? What about a Welshman from a Scotch?