Posted by Ancestry Team on April 2, 2015 in AncestryDNA

AncestryDNA is turning family history inside out with our latest innovation in DNA science and technology. Within your DNA, you carry a history that goes back hundreds, even thousands of years. Today, we are pleased to announce New Ancestor Discoveries™, a revolutionary new way to discover, preserve and share your family history. Now, by just taking the AncestryDNA test, you can instantly find ancestors you never knew you had, going back generations in your family. This represents an entirely new way to get more of your story, whether you’re an expert genealogist, hobbyist, or beginner.

Meet the Next Generation of Family History

New Ancestor Discoveries, the patent-pending innovation only available with AncestryDNA, can take you down a new path of your story. Do you have a brick wall on a family line? Maybe you haven’t been able to go very far back in your family tree, or maybe you were adopted and are hoping to find the missing pieces of your story. New Ancestor Discoveries are here to help by using your DNA in a way that has never been possible—until now.

Imagine that you know nothing about your 3rd great-grandmother on your father’s side. You haven’t been able to find her name, you’ve never seen a picture of her, and you don’t know where she was born. Now by taking the AncestryDNA test you may finally discover that piece of your story. This is the power unlocked by New Ancestor Discoveries as we push technology and DNA science to the next level.

So, how is this possible?

New Ancestor Discoveries are made through a unique combination of AncestryDNA results and the millions of family trees shared by Ancestry members. First, living cousins of each AncestryDNA member are found and organized into family networks called DNA Circles™, which bring together groups of people who are all related to the same ancestor. From there, New Ancestor Discoveries are found when you are a strong genetic match with members of a DNA Circle but you don’t already have that ancestor in your tree. It’s an innovative new way we are combining DNA, family trees, and historical records to help you make the next breakthrough in your story.


Where can New Ancestor Discoveries take you?

  • Find ancestors you may have never known, even if you know absolutely nothing about your family history, through this high-tech combination of DNA, family trees, and family history expertise.
  • Cross the pond in your research with new ancestors from England, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, and more.
  • Go back as far as the 1700s in an instant through your AncestryDNA test.
  • Find relatives that you may never have been able to find with family trees or historical records alone.
  • Grow your family tree with genetic evidence.

Our DNA members are receiving New Ancestor Discoveries pointing them to ancestors born as far back as the 1700s in both in the United States and abroad.

What if I’ve already taken the AncestryDNA test?

If you are already an AncestryDNA member, good news, you don’t have to take a new test to get this great new benefit. Watch for your own New Ancestor Discoveries. They will appear on your DNA results page just below the ethnicity and matching section. If you don’t have any yet, keep checking back; new connections are being made every day, and as the database continues to grow, you will have more chances for New Ancestor Discoveries.


Every time I find another piece of my story, a new ancestor name, fact, or picture, I realize I am here today because of their choices. I am who I am because of them. And I carry their DNA inside of me. If you haven’t taken a DNA test, now is the time. Your DNA holds pieces of your story—it’s time to discover it.


Stay tuned for more helpful information on getting the most from New Ancestor Discoveries and how to improve your likelihood of getting them, if you don’t already have one.








  1. D Spencer

    so if I have bought a couple old tests but haven’t DONE them yet? when I do them, these new results will also show up, if any? thanks.

  2. Anna

    @D Spencer-yes anyone who has been or will be tested will have a chance depending on who your DNA matches can receive a New Ancestor Discoveries.

  3. Mary

    My Dad took an ancestrydna test in 2008 will this be available for tests taken back then as well?

  4. Linda Dabulewicz

    So MY best friend is adopted and has done an ancestry dna test as well as one at 23 and me. My father and sister have ancestrydna. My friend matches me at a23 and me but does not match my sister at ancestry. He seems to be related to our crosby family. How do I get circles for him if he does not know who his parents are ?

  5. William D Romanski

    What about a chromosome browser? All these “innovations” are useless without evidence…without even the simplest tools.

  6. RBoas

    Will this tool be available for those who do not wish to make their entire family tree public? I prefer to keep mine private, but am willing to share with those who are related or believed to be related.

  7. Karen

    As I look at a new feature of DNA circles, I see that
    you can link through to an ancestor profile that has an “overview” page and a “facts” page that, in one case, is compiled from 94 family trees. They take my breath away. There is so much stupid, wrong info. It bears no resemblance to the truth. Every time I look at my circles I want to cry. Bios are junk, dates are junk, locations are junk, relationships are junk. Plus why am I getting DNA circles for 4th great uncles by marriage? A person, to whom I am not related?

  8. Angela

    I echo William’s comment – without a chromosome browser, there’s no real evidence supporting links to these other people. I have matches that don’t match at the other tests site – yet Ancestry rates them as Very High 4-6th cousin. Really? What are you seeing that the other sites don’t?

    Furthermore, most of my DNA matches do not have trees and have not logged in recently which leads me to believe that they purchased their kit for ethnicity alone (which, of course, was how it was marketed). It’s no surprise to me then, that I have only one circle (which has told me nothing new of my ancestry) and there are only 3 circles out of the 12 kits I either manage or share with. None of us have new ancestors to discover with this new innovation.

    We really would just like a chromosome browser.

  9. Diane

    This was an amazing tool. I had no idea I had Italian/Greek DNA in my bloodline. My DNA results confirmed my English and Scottish roots. And through research I have been able to trace one line back to the 12th century to find I am a descendant of royalty!! I always played a princess as a little girl. Now I found I really am the descendant if Barons, Lords and Knights who had their own castles. And on my father’s side I found my Native American grandmother line, and a picture! I found pictures of relatives I had never seen. Thank you for giving me a piece of my family back.

  10. This is pretty cool. I’m working on one family tree for an adoptee, and it looks like this will help break through a “Davis” brick wall.

    I see people complaining about sloppy trees from other contributors. Of course most of the trees out there are sloppy. I don’t copy from them, I just use them as a starting point for my own research–it’s not likely that many people are deliberately lying. This feature is just another way of finding starting points.

    I also have to point out, if you’re seeing a DNA relation to someone you don’t think you’re biologically related to… don’t dismiss it out of hand. What people reported on paper–e.g. the name of the father on a birth certificate–is just what people reported on paper. Hanky panky has been a reality of humanity from before recorded history. Maybe you’re seeing a biological reality covered up by those involved, rather a mistake in the results.

  11. Shannon Christmas

    I agree with William, Karen, and Angela that the gimmicky features AncestryDNA heralds as an alternative to a chromosome browser fail to meet the needs of genetic genealogists.

    From my experience and the testimony of many other customers, AncestryDNA’s attempts to automate discoveries do not clarify connections, but instead confuse them. The problem at the core of these beautifully rendered but often dysfunctional features is the underlying methodology: genetic network theory.

    Genetic network theory has arguably less explanatory power than the segment triangulation methodology that genetic genealogists have employed for years. Genetic network theory claims that if a ring of people share DNA with at least one other person in the group and they claim descent from a common ancestral couple, then the known common ancestors are the source of the shared DNA. The flaw in the genetic network theory is that it fails to account for endogamy, pedigree collapse, and the possibility that the various members of a DNA Circle group share – and likely inherited their common DNA from – multiple family lines other than the one illustrated in the circle/discovery ecosystem. Segment triangulation, on the other hand, is a more precise methodology that alleges that in many cases a group of people all sharing the same DNA segment inherited that DNA segment from a common ancestor. Segment triangulation, while not flawless (some shared DNA segments are artifacts of ancient population bottlenecks and evolutionary changes in humans), seems far more logical than the genetic network theory AncestryDNA espouses.

    Even AncestryDNA staffer Dr. Julie Granka has conceded “The reality is that if you share DNA with members of a DNA Circle, it does not necessarily mean that you also share the DNA Circle ancestor. You could instead have another ancestor in common with the Circle members – for example, if the Circle ancestor is the sister of your great-grandmother. You could also share several different common ancestors with multiple members of the Circle – even if none of them are actually the ancestor of the Circle.” Segment triangulation with an onsite chromosome browser would permit customers in many cases to sidestep some of the imprecision that the genetic network theory-powered Circles and Discoveries engender. This would also provide, as customers of Family Tree DNA and 23andMe know, an extra layer of quality control, quality control that AncestryDNA desperately needs.

    However, despite Dr. Granka’s admission, AncestryDNA continues to deny customers the convenience of an onsite chromosome browser or even matching DNA segment data, preventing customers from employing more illuminating analysis on their site and almost forcing them to accept the questionable, if not erroneous claims their flawed systems all too often generate. This is not a breakthrough, but instead a clear backward step.

  12. Shari

    This is very exciting, but you know how Ancestry prides itself on offering images of actual records so we can follow through on those leaf hints with proper research? That’s why we need a chromosome browser and/or matching segment information. This is the leaf hint. (Wonderful, but very limited in its own.)

  13. Genetic network theory? Chromosome browser? Thinking of Ancestry as a business, I would wager that only a tiny fraction of Ancestry’s paying subscriber base would even understand what those are. They wouldn’t use it, and it wouldn’t generate any additional revenue. And I doubt that the lack of such tools would cause the small percentage “genetic genealogists” to cancel their subscriptions.

    Ancestry wants to make money, they need scale, and that means catering to casual, amateur genealogists who are looking for help getting basic research done.

  14. PBP

    I really like the concept, but there seems to be a glitch . . . my husband and I each have an AncestryDNA test under the same account. Today HIS DNA test received notification of 2 New Ancestor Discoveries. I recognized the names, and they are MY distant cousin and her husband, and are NOT relatives of my husband!

  15. Bev

    The Beta “New Ancestor Discovery” feature has to be one of the most ill-conceived features that Ancestry has yet foisted off on its customers, second only to refusing to provide dna matching segment data. It ranks higher than the often spurious/false “mini-biographies” of our ancestors that have now reappeared in DNA Circles.
    I don’t want nor do I need Ancestry to invent false ancestors for me and my dna matches, as Ancestry is now doing with this new Beta feature.
    Seems that Ancestry has now gotten into the business of reading tea leaves….

  16. CH

    So excited for this latest info from ancestry! Can’t wait to go take a look! I have found so many new things & even cousins in Europe. (I’m in America). I love ancestry! Thank you!!

  17. caith

    Is Ancestry saying these are our ancestral grandparents? Or are saying these could be our ancestral aunts and uncles?

  18. Tim

    I agree with many others here– without a chromosome browser this new feature means nothing other than many more people will be “confirming by DNA” ancestors who are not really theirs and compounding inaccurate research.

  19. Jason Lee

    “Now, by just taking the AncestryDNA test, you can instantly find ancestors you never knew you had…”

    That’s an audacious claim. At best, “New Ancestor Discoveries” are hints with no supporting evidence. In many cases, they are undoubtedly false. Although the people at Ancestry have made it abundantly clear that they are adamantly opposed to providing segment comparison tools, segment comparison is the only way sort out false “Ancestor Discoveries.”

    In lieu of a chromosome browser, the gold standard in genetic genealogy, Ancestry should at lest tell their customers which of their DNA segments were used to generate the “New Ancestor Discoveries” E.g., “Using family tree information and your DNA (a 32 cM segment on Chromosome 5, 79M-116M), we have assigned you to “New Ancestor Discoveries” for William Ogden (1820-1888).

    I know that Ancestry has no intention of providing such information, but Ancestry’s customers should understand that they don’t need splashy headlines about “significant technological advancements”, they need technology that is already widely available elsewhere: segment comparison tools.

  20. Anna Swayne

    @Jeanne-we would like to make it available in Canada but we don’t have a date yet
    @Linda-that is why we created New Ancestor Discoveries, to help guide you to new leads on possible ancestors when you don’t have a DNA Circle because that person isn’t in your tree.
    @RBoas-you don’t need a public tree for New Ancestor Discoveries.

  21. Jason Lee

    Michael O’Neill: “Chromosome browser? Thinking of Ancestry as a business, I would wager that only a tiny fraction of Ancestry’s paying subscriber base would even understand what those are…”

    And yet other companies provide this tool and satisfied customers use it to their own benefit and to the benefit of other customers. Using a chromosome browser does not require advanced education or esoteric knowledge. If you can synthesize family history from census documents and birth records, you can look at overlapping rectangles on an chromosome browser and understand that this indicates shared ancestry.

    If only a tiny fraction of AncestryDNA’s customers are familiar with the benefits of a chromosome browser, it is only because Ancestry has withheld this tool from their customer.

  22. Anna Swayne

    @PBP-you may want to call into member services to have us look into your account.
    @caith- A New Ancestor Discovery provides evidence of a relationship but does not prove that you are related. These new discoveries could be anywhere from great-grandparents/great aunts/uncles and cousins back 6 generations.
    @Rick and Diana-if you use the site you can now sign up on the notification list to let you know when DNA is available in your neighborhood.

  23. @Jason Lee: I’m not saying the feature might not have some utility. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be easy to use with good design and a little education.

    I’m saying that is a business, and that business is revenue from a) subscription renewals, b) new customers buying subscription, and c) product line extensions (e.g. ethnicity DNA tests,, etc.).

    Outside looking in, I see this particular feature appealing to those customers that have only taken the DNA test to check for ethnicity, and haven’t bothered to create a family tree. This gives Ancestry the opportunity to reach out to them with something new–an easy way to get started–thus expanding the paying subscriber base.

    For existing subscribers who are staring at a bunch of brick walls and debating whether to renew, this gives them a reason to log back in and start digging again.

    It’s a business. If you want an awesome chromosome browser, the argument you should be making is that you would pay more money if this feature were offered at (i.e. product line extension). And that you’ll drop your current subscription because you’re happier with a competing service that does offer this feature.

  24. Debbie

    You are trying to suggest I might belong in the circle of my 1st cousin 6 times removed because I match the DNA of the circles members. I have leaf hints for all of those people I match in that circle for the actual 6th great grandfather and grandmother that we do have in common. Why not give me a circle on them instead?

    I would also like to see a way to comment of the DNA circle person’s story. When someone else saves a census record to their tree and saves the marriage part to a marriage fact, it causes the story to assume there is a second wife when there wasn’t one. The years married on the census isn’t always what it seems. 1900 census takes the years married and assumes the marriage year from that. If the spouse had previously died and the question was answered from marriage to the spouses death, you get a wrong marriage year on the record. Someone comes along and attaches that census. They leave everything checked (default) and now they have a bogus marriage year fact. Then you create the story from that. Now we get an extra marriage in the story and no way to correct the story.

  25. Teresa

    Very exciting! If only there was a chromosome browser in addition to these new tools, Ancestry would be THE place to do DNA testing. As it is, people still have tough choices.

  26. Sally

    I also wish a chromosome browser would be made available. I will consider myself fortunate for now that I have no circles or discoveries. Comparing data via analytical tools is highly preferable to using data from user-compiled trees that can often be suspect at best. I wish I had the opportunity to decide for myself my DNA connections, and not by yet another proprietary algorithm. Love the records, not a fan of the tools.

  27. Charlotte Bruhn

    You have made my mother and myself descendants of a person whose lifespan overlaps my mother’s and of whom we have never heard. The people on that circle who actually match us have ancestors with surnames similar and possibly the same as one of ours and one of those persons actually shares DNA segments that match mother, myself and 5 other known descendants of mother’s 3X great grandfather. But that is not the connection you have made. I got my mother to give a sample in hopes of at least being able to figure out which side of my family my matches on here match, but this is simply absurd. It is not scientific nor accurate genetic DNA without a chromosome browser and matching, triangulated segments.

  28. Joseph P. Romero

    With your DNA research are you able to specify a blood-line to a specific Native American tribe: E.g., the Chumash tribe indigenous to Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties, CAlif. ?

  29. cynthia edwards

    I want to encourage Ancestry to go for the chromosome browser too.I do agree with Anna that the circles sometimes help you get new ideas for research avenues.I really hope we are going to be linked with the British Isles folks as they come on board.

  30. Anastasia

    This tool is not a better mousetrap. It is misleading and, from what I see, inaccurate in most cases. I also think saying that most customers won’t use a chromosome browser is a pointless reason not offer one when Ancestry offers these grossly inaccurate tools. A chromosome browser is an actual beneficial tool.

  31. Paula Svincek

    My GGGrandfather was a Navajo Indian captured by the Utes and sold to a wealthy man in Colorado. Would this new finding aid in determining those relatives?

  32. MattL

    Like the new feature but *really* want a chromosome browser like *many many* others. Keep in mind not every user will want to use or know how to use that feature but there will be *many* of us that do that will work with those and benefit those that don’t.

  33. anita

    This title is misleading and should more properly be named “New Relative Discoveries,” not “New Ancestor Discoveries” which implies a direct descendancy. The connections it gives me that I can figure out are related distantly (an ancestor’s cousin/uncle) but are not on my direct line.

  34. Rob

    What you are claiming is basically fraud. These are not scientifically legitimate claims and you should be ashamed for making them. This is enough for me to stop recommending your DNA service and instead go back to pushing 23andMe. The fact that you still don’t have a chromosome browser tool and apparently have no intentions of producing one is unbelievable. You will get hammered on this and you deserve to get hammered.

  35. allpeas

    I agree with the people who say the contributed trees have a massive amount of errors in them. When I see Isle of Wright instead of Isle of Wight, I know it is a copied tree and the person has not done any personal research. However, I do like to compare trees with my info but how can I do this when there are none or they are private. As far as writing them, dream on, very few ever answer. My suggestion is to make it mandatory to have some kind of tree, even if just surnames and places, that would give us some clue as to which line we might match.

  36. Betty Tartas

    Interesting idea, but without a chromosome browser with which to verify the match against known family members (known as triangulation), the “New Ancestor Discoveries” will remain speculation at best. By the way, a chromosome browser is a tool which allows you to compare yourself with other DNA matches, and see exactly where and on which chromosome the match occurs. There are chromosome browsers on both Family Tree DNA and 23andMe.

  37. Sara K Danison

    We are not interested in DNA Circles, rather geography. We are 8 connected surnames. Some are recorded to early 1600s with thanks to others past and present. I am 80yro,,therefor, the 1700s does not seem that seem so far back since I have memories of my mother speaking of her grandmother,and many other family members and events of their times. I have through usual activities frequently been in the same places many ancesters have been. Often it seems I am visiting. I can cross-reference,military battles,local community events,cemetaries,and follow the “travel” of given names,geografically.

  38. Patricia Sue Foster

    I recently received 2 DNA ancestor notifications. I was adopted at birth & found my birth mother in 2005. These 2 ancestors you matched me up with are my birth mother’s great-grandparents, which is absolutely correct. I just wish I could understand how you get this kind of result. When looking through my mother’s genealogy book, which traces her family back to the 1500s, almost every one lived in Switzerland, yet my ethnic results come back only 9% Western Europe. The 2 ancestors you identified were both born & lived in Switzerland, until they emigrated to the U.S. So why is my ethnicity so different?

  39. Virgilee3

    I think the DNA test is just another piece of the puzzle. I have family history handed down to me that said I had a Native American Great Grandmother turns out she was Welch. The combination of tools really can help with the search. I am please with my results I have 12 DNA circles and can find them all in my tree.

  40. Denese

    So if no one has a tree built out far enough, no New Ancestry Discoveries will be available. I have three brick wall lines that only go to 2x great grandparents. No one else is researching these people and any trees out there have used my tree so we are all stuck at the same person and will never get past this point through any DNA Circles or New Ancestry Discoveries. I’ll save my subscription money and invest in a research trip instead.

  41. Dawn

    Love this new feature, however am unable to access the 2nd page of matches. I keep getting the message to try again later. I have lost the ability to view 17 matches. So far, I have 25 total matches but can only access 8 of them. Is there a fix for this????

    Would appreciate an answer. Thanks!

  42. Arlys Dill

    I have sent my saliva sample, but know nothing since then. What do I need to do to get further information? Arlys Idean Alderson Dill

  43. I have not been able to figure out ANY of the the three new possible ancestors in my DNA circles. I have DNA matches with people who have that name in their family tree, but I can’t find any clues from their family trees that would help me connect to the common ancestor. What techniques would help me solve these puzzles?

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