If you are a person interested in family genealogy you have probably used one of the popular family tree websites. Lately there has been a push with these sites, as well as with National Geographic, to gather DNA from families worldwide and compare them. To what end, you might ask yourself. What can I learn from having my DNA tested that will be useful in my family tree work? This is a question yet to be answered but some interesting things have happened because people are flocking to the sites to get their DNA tested and compared. If you have ever watched "Who Do You Think You Are?", you know that sometimes heritage can be very revealing.
If you have a great relationship with your family members and also have the information regarding your family tree branches pretty far back, you are ahead of the game. One of the problems with family tree work is that the further you go back into the family, the more chance of error you have. This is because of misspellings and poor record keeping in most families. Face it, most regular people before the 1600s couldn't read or write so how could they keep correct records? Then those who came to America through Ellis Island or one of the other entry places often had their names changed upon arrival because the person making record of the arrival couldn't pronounce or spell the name and the person entering the U.S. couldn't spell it either. So, one of the most interesting things that you may discover when working online with family trees is that there are many different potential spellings of almost every surname.
DNA samples are easy to provide to the companies that are going to do the testing. The company will provide the container and the directions for you to take the DNA and preserve it until it reaches the lab for the magic to begin. It will take at least a month from the date that it is received in the lab until you get your results; maybe longer. The results will be given to you either online or by mail (or both, in some cases). The fun starts when you begin to read the results and try to figure out just what they mean.
When you placed your order you had to make a decision as to the type of DNA testing you wanted done. It will be most confusing when you try to figure out which test will give you the most information. Ancestry.com launched a test this spring that will test the DNA of either male or female and give you information regarding your male ancestry line. Your results will be shown first in a pie chart of percentages of heritage. You will learn what percentage is from the British Isles, Middle East, South America or other area. You may be surprised to find that your DNA knows more about your heritage than you or any other family member. The company will also furnish DNA matches for you to investigate on your own. Do you contact them or do you just read and re-read them in wonder? You will discover the common surname that you share with your 4th, 5th or 8th cousin. If you contact the name given you may find out that you came from a heritage you had never imagined.
Family Tree DNA is another company that is tracking heritage. Their tests are a little different than the ones offered by Ancestry.com but they can both be interpreted in a common manner. Y-DNA tests are offered exclusively for males in your family. Women can be tested for MT-DNA only. If you have no living father or brother you might want to consider asking a cousin or uncle to be tested for the Y-DNA to fill out your tree. You can also schedule a Family Finder alone or add MT or Y DNA to it,too. The more information you want and are tested for, the more it will probably cost you. Chances of getting it cheap are pretty much zero unless the lab finds out you are the last remaining Romanov heir; I imagine then the tests would be free.
There are several projects you can join with your DNA results. These can be "name" projects that can link you to your family name, a family name far down the line of your tree or to one that you had never considered. Here is when it can be interesting. If you had been adopted as a baby and never told, your DNA would reveal that to you. If you had a twin that was given away at birth, you might possibly find him or her through the matching between your DNA and those already in the system. Perhaps your family fled Eastern Europe because of the pogroms in Russia, Ukraine, Prussia. You may not have ever been told that your heritage is Jewish but, rest assured, your DNA will reveal it.
There are 23 pairs of chromosomes. The Ancestry.com DNA test now being offered is new and somehow analyzes the whole genome. It can analyze both your male and female DNA and give you a whole picture of your heritage. Because this test is in the Beta Testing stage, you can get it for a reduced amount and perhaps find out as much as you would from all of the others. It is worth a try if you are really interested in learning who you really are.