In 2015, we introduced New Ancestor Discoveries which connects AncestryDNA users with potential new ancestors or relatives— someone that may not be in your family tree previously. A New Ancestor Discovery appears if you share significant amounts of DNA with multiple members of an AncestryDNA Circle—which means you might also be related to the ancestor that the DNA Circle is built around. These hints can be a great starting point for your research and help you connect to other family members you didn’t know you had.
In order to determine New Ancestor Discoveries, we created an algorithm with criteria that connects people to DNA Circles based on their DNA matches. This algorithm was created last year when we launched New Ancestor Discoveries and with the rapid growth of the DNA database, we are finding it needs to be updated.
As DNA Circles get larger and more DNA matches are delivered, more people are connecting into the DNA Circles, which results in more New Ancestor Discoveries, but with a decrease in accuracy. So, we are updating the criteria to make it more conservative and increase the accuracy of New Ancestor Discoveries. This means you’ll need more connections into a DNA Circle to get a New Ancestor Discovery.
These updates will result in a significant decrease in the number New Ancestor Discoveries, but with an increase in accuracy. Some populations may experience larger decreases. We will continue to monitor and adjust this as necessary to ensure these provide meaningful discoveries for our members.
This update to the algorithm is currently happening and you can see changes over the coming days. Previously, you needed to match at least 2 members of a known DNA Circle to be given a New Ancestor Discovery. Now, users must match at least 3 members of a small (15 members or less) DNA Circle to be given a New Ancestor Discovery. For larger DNA Circles (16+ members), users must match 20% of that Circle to be given a New Ancestor Discovery. For example, if there is a DNA Circle of 10 people, you will need to match at least 3 people to get a New Ancestor Discovery. If there is a DNA Circle of 30 people, you will now need to match 6 people instead of 2.
Learn more about the science behind New Ancestor Discoveries from Director of Product, AncestryDNA, Kenny Freestone,
See more helpful AncestryDNA videos on our YouTube channel here.