Part 1: Navigating MyHeritage DNA Matches & Tools
This is Part 1 of a series about how to use MyHeritage DNA matches and tools. Read part two about the Theories of Family Relativity.
When it comes to DNA matches, there’s family–the people you’ve known and lived with and been around maybe your entire life or perhaps just a short period. Naturally, you know these people. Maybe you share some of the same physical features, such as the shape of your nose or your hair color. Indeed, you’ve laughed, cried, celebrated, grieved, and experienced a wide range of emotions together. They are more than just familiar to you, so you think.
But then there’s – family. This family is your genetic family. This is the family you thought you knew extremely well and the family you may not know well at all. When you take a DNA test at MyHeritage DNA, you’re probably going to find a little bit of both types of family members waiting to be discovered and re-discovered in your DNA results.
Luckily, MyHeritage DNA provides a wealth of tools to help us become highly familiar with all our family members – known and previously unknown!
MyHeritage DNA Results and Tools
To access your DNA Matches at MyHeritage DNA, click on DNA on the top of the page in the menu bar. When you click on DNA, you will be directed to an overview of your DNA results, including your Ethnicity Estimate and DNA Matches.
Continue to scroll down further, and you’ll also find locations and ethnicities of your DNA matches below your personal summarized ethnicity estimates and relationship information.
Locations and ethnicities are tools or filters which we will discuss as we explore how to familiarize ourselves with our genetic relatives!
Click on View DNA Matches to proceed to your genetic match lists, and let the research begin. Genetic relatives are typically broken up into three categories:
- close family
- extended family
- distant relatives
Results will vary for each MyHeritage DNA test participant for each relationship. Most people will recognize DNA matches identified as close relatives. Close relatives are:
- your parents
- first cousins
At a glance, you should immediately recognize and know who these relatives are.
Assuming you have several or even a handful of close relatives within your match list, you’re likely to be amazed by what you learn of your genetic familial relationship to them.
For instance, you may find that an aunt or uncle of yours shares an amount of DNA with you that is “genetically equivalent” to the amount of shared DNA expected between grandparents and their grandchildren as well as half-siblings. If you’re fortunate enough to have a variety of several close relatives who have tested, like multiple aunts or uncles or siblings or first cousins, you’ll be able to quickly and easily discover that you don’t all share the same exact ethnicities or amounts of DNA.
In other words, don’t be alarmed! You and your full sibling will share different amounts of DNA with your first cousins. In the MyHeritage DNA match list example, I share varying amounts of DNA with my two maternal aunts and maternal uncle, all within the range expected for a niece/nephew and aunt/uncle relationship.
What about all the newly discovered family in your DNA Matches you don’t already know?
MyHeritage DNA provides several tools to help understand how the DNA matches you aren’t familiar with relate to you. Many of these tools will become immediately available to you once you click on Review DNA Match.
Even if your mystery DNA match hasn’t provided family surnames and locations or linked their entire family tree to their MyHeritage DNA profile, you’ll still be provided with information such as their probable relationship to you and the DNA match quality with particulars such as the amount of shared DNA, shared segments and the largest segment shared between you and the match.
Keeping the concept of “genetically equivalent relationships” in mind, MyHeritage DNA takes the probable relationship initially provided further with their cM Explainer™ tool. The tool shows multiple relationship possibilities, the probability for each relationship, and who the most recent common ancestor(s) might be within your family tree.
Beyond the cM Explainer™ feature, you can better understand or at least filter your DNA match to a particular part of your maternal or paternal family by comparing your shared DNA matches. In this view, you can compare the amount of shared DNA you and a match each share with an in-common match.
The chromosome browser icon appears if the same segments of DNA are shared between all three of you.
Scroll further down, and you can also familiarize yourself with your known and unknown matches by exploring your shared ethnicities and genetic groups.
The chromosome browser is the final feature available to you and your shared DNA match without a family tree. Within the DNA matches view of you and your shared match, this only reveals the segments in common between you and the one match. For full access to the chromosome browser feature, click DNA Tools at the top menu bar.
DNA matches with family trees may include all the previous features within the profile of your DNA match in addition to a Theory of Family Relativity™, shared ancestral surnames, shared ancestral places, and a pedigree chart of their family tree. Including a family tree with your DNA match profile is advantageous for everyone to maximize the features built into the website.
DNA filters can be utilized to quickly gain insight into the individuals within your match lists. The six filter menus are:
- Tree details
- Genetic Groups
They can be accessed by clicking the Filters icon shown here.
Most menu selections are self-explanatory apart from Theory of Family Relativity™ and Smart Matches™ in the Tree details filters. The Theory of Family Relativity™ is discussed in this article further below.
For the locations filter, keep in mind this is the location your match has entered as their current or home location and may not reflect their genetic heritage. For instance, if I’m currently based in Japan, I may select that as my location, yet I may not have any Japanese ancestors. The ethnicities feature can be used to better assist with finding matches who share or don’t share ethnicities in common but are of interest for many possible family research questions.
In the finale of our conversation on filters, the labels filter may assist with grouping your matches once you’ve figured out where they fit in your family tree or even if you haven’t. Use as many or as few labels as suits your individual research needs.
Continue reading Part Two: MyHeritage DNA Theories of Family Relativity here.
If you’d like to work with our team of professional genetic genealogists to help you with some of your DNA family history questions, you can fill out a form here to get things rolling!