Posted by Ancestry Team on April 16, 2014 in AncestryDNA

Last week we announced that the AncestryDNA team collectively has found 2.7 million DNA hints. 10 days later, we are nearing 3 million DNA hints – and the number is increasing as more and more people get tested and build out their family tree. Remember: a hint is more than a DNA match. You get a DNA hint when AncestryDNA has found a common ancestor you and a DNA match share.

Mapping My Matches

I took a deeper dive into my own DNA hints and plotted them out on a fan chart to see which lines I had hints on and which lines I didn’t. Then, I took it one step further and plotted the hints that each of my parents have. Instead of including all of their hints, I plotted out only the hints they have that I don’t have. In the chart below you will see DNA hints represented by different colored leaves:

Green- hints I received from my DNA test

Purple- hints my mom received that I didn’t

Blue- hints my dad received that I didn’t

Each leaf represents a shared ancestor connection that either I or my parents have with a living relative who also took the AncestryDNA test.

fan chart with DNA hints

Remember, I only get 50% of each of my parent’s DNA so the hints they received that I didn’t are because that portion of their DNA wasn’t passed down to me. My Dad has 7 more hints than I do and my Mom has 4.

Filling in the Empty Lines

You may have also noticed that there are several lines that I don’t have any hints on. There are a couple of possible reasons for this:

One, there may not be anyone who has been tested on these lines whom I share DNA with. After doing this exercise I saw more of a need to test additional people in my family. I have already reached out to a few first cousins on my mother’s line to see if I can get them tested to trace my maternal great-grandparents. Getting m­­ore people tested in my family will give me more DNA information to use in understanding our story.

Two, perhaps I do have a cousin match on those lines, but because we don’t have the same person in our trees, we don’t get a hint. I will continue to build out my tree to see if I can connect to more of my matches.

Understanding DNA Hints

Keep in mind that DNA hints are just hints. Use them to help understand where the possible connection is and then verify that connection. (This earlier article talks about the different types of hints and how they work.) Once you have verified your hint, you know exactly how you and your match are related. That is powerful.

Want to get more of your story? Click here to get a test for a family member.





  1. Richard Mottershead

    Would testing different siblings produce differing results, or would each of have the same part of your parents DNA? Also would you recommend my Dad and I both getting tested?

  2. Adriana

    Richard Mottershead: Yes, testing siblings can produce different results. You and your siblings didn’t necessarily inherit the same chunks of DNA from your parents. Your father, for example, 50% of his mother and 50% of his father, but you aren’t 25% of his mother and 25% of his father. In terms of the DNA he passed onto you, you could be mostly his father or mostly his mother. Your sister could have inherited more of his mother’s DNA than you did. You’ll find that you and your full siblings might have different cousin matches, as a result. These people are also your cousins even if you don’t genetically match them, of course; you and they just didn’t happen to inherit the segments of DNA that your parent and sibling did.

    I always think it’s worth it to test a parent and here’s why. First, they’re genetically closer to the original ancestor. Their DNA is “less diluted.” In other words, they’re more likely to share DNA with cousins than you are because you are 50% of your other parent.

    Also, testing a parent can often tell you how you are connected to a cousin match. If you’re having trouble pinpointing how you’re related and you don’t know whether to look on mom’s or dad’s side, your father also matching this person would be a good indication that this is a paternal cousin match and not a maternal one.

    I should point out that sometimes your parents’ trees will intersect (pedigree collapse) or cousins of your mother could be cousins of your father, but from different ancestors. That might make it more difficult; however, testing one or both parents, as well as yourself, is a good tool to start locating those common ancestors.

  3. Steve Moray

    In lines with Adriana’s comments, you forgot a third, very important, possibility regarding your missing lines. You may not have inherited any of those ancestors DNA.

  4. Maryfaye

    As the only child of two deceased parents whom has already traced their tree back to the great grandparents, I am not seeing any advantage a DNA Test will give me at this point. Maybe in another 30 years DNA testing will yield more for those in my predicament. . .

  5. TC

    It is always the wisest way to test the oldest living generation you can. For instance: your parents for sure, and if your grandparents are alive: them too!

    Seeing my own childrens testing is very interesting, cousins are the same, and if you do not have grandparents to test: get those uncles/aunts or at the very least : as many cousins as you can! you will all be different, and the more potential matches, the better!

  6. Elizabeth

    Maryfaye — Have you considered that it might not be so much a help to you but for others? Someone who finds out that they are related to you, and therefore you can help them fill in their tree?

  7. Hey Anna Swayne — I did a similar thing very recently — can you please pass along that a view like this (along with info on which dna strands we connect on) would be VERY helpful for genealogical research.

    Yes we get it they are only suggestions but I think a view like this would be awesome.


    Thomas Kelly

  8. Elliott Terman

    I and a couple of my cousins have done their DNA through 23andMe. How do we migrate the 23andMe results over to to take advantage of additional exposure?
    Thanks for any comebacks.
    Elliott Terman

  9. I’ve had the DNA test performed. I received my DNA predicted ethnicity results as well as hints under ‘my matches.’ I reviewed the hints and added people. Now there should be more hints but it seems the ‘system’ hasn’t been reset as I don’t see these should be new hints or leafs under ‘my matches.’ When will the system update so I can see these?

    Thanks, Brandon

  10. Briana Felch

    @ Elliott – You can upload your raw results from 23&me to for FREE and thus compare against people who have tested at 23andme, Ancestry, and FTDNA and similarly uploaded their results to Gedmatch.

    It essentially allows you to fish in all three ponds, though it wouldn’t be quite the same as a full Ancestry testing experience.

    I have tested at both Ancestry and 23andme. About to y-DNA test my father with FTDNA.

  11. debbi in Texas

    That fan chart is interesting; I am not sure how to create something similar. I just got my DNA results today and already a cousin I never met has contacted me A tutorial for us would be helpful.

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