Posted by David Sanchez on November 9, 2018 in AncestryDNA, News

Ancestry’s long history of innovation has driven our leadership in family history and, more recently, the emerging field of consumer genomics. Today, we’re proud to introduce a fun and innovative way for you to further explore who you are and where you come from – AncestryDNA Traits. Using science and data to power ongoing journeys of discovery, Traits is a new interactive experience that allows you to discover traits and attributes influenced by your DNA. With AncestryDNA Traits, you can explore up to 18 traits and attributes that you’ve inherited from your ancestors, share with family, and may pass down to future generations.

AncestryDNA Traits gives you personalized insights that help you understand how your DNA influences the attributes that make you unique. You can explore the science behind physical and sensory traits including hair color, earlobe shape, skin pigmentation, eye color, iris patterns – as well as sweet, bitter and cilantro aversion. Discover how these traits run in your family and how they might be connected to your ethnic origins. Get answers to why you’re the only one of your siblings with red hair – or why you have light-colored eyes – or why you and your mom both cringe at the bitter taste of brussel sprouts.

Powered by AncestryDNA, Traits gives you an even deeper look at your personal story through the “Around the World” interactive map. You can explore how your traits align with your heritage and learn whether your green eyes are common in other people with Irish ancestry.

Those of you with the AncestryDNA Mobile app will be the first with access to our new Traits Compare feature which allows you to compare your genetic markers that influence your traits with friends, family, or any other AncestryDNA customer who has Traits. See what today’s genetic science has to say about what you have in common with friends and family – then share your findings around the dinner table this holiday season. I know that’s where I learn the most about my family, our history, and who passed what down the line – thanks mom for those webbed toes and thanks dad for the hair.

Traits is just the latest example of the many tools we’re working on to enable a journey of personal discovery that we hope will enrich your life. As in everything we do, protecting your privacy is our highest priority, so we will continue to place you in control of your data – that means both you and your counterpart must consent to participate in any Traits Comparison.

David Sanchez

Vice President, Product


  1. Jojo

    Color me underwhelmed.

    How about giving us some real useful tools, like by checkboxing all my known relative son my maternal side, then show me WHO isn’t related to this side. This could help give me some clues about which of the many DNA relatives I have are from the paternal side, which is not possible to do currently.

    You could also make it easy to see CM length, % strength, # matching segments and haplogroup in one view. You could also do a tool to compare haplogroups to maybe try and isolate paternal from maternal matches.

    And I am sure others will have many more interesting ideas also. Stop wasting resources on meaningless eye candy!

    • Ann Thompson

      I agree. I am seeking DNA “science” to assist my family “wall blocks” in my trees. I DON’T care about BELLS &WHISTLES for higher sales of your kit. JUST THE FACTS -PLEASE!

    • Ginger

      Would much prefer a filter to sort matches by maternal and paternal so that I can more easily See which side of the family matches are on.

  2. Devon

    Kind of a useless feature! Time for a chromosome browser to see the matching segments so we can find out how our unknown matches are related to us!!

  3. Laura Nelson

    I’m really excited to try it! Thanks for continuing to provide fun and useful tools, I’m sure you’re working on many more!

  4. Shannon

    I recommend retiring AncestryDNA’s Timber algorithm, including matching X-chromosome DNA in shared cM totals, and installing a chromosome browser to enable customers to generate many more insights about their family history. #ToolsNotToys.

  5. Garry Wood

    Chromosome browser, Chromosome browser, Chromosome browser. Jojo you are spot on. We need tools not embellishment.

  6. WF

    Much rather have some useful tools that your long term customers want to: download matches to a spreadsheet so we can sort, search, filter, compare, highlight, etc.; online mark, sort, filter, categorize, etc.; and hide matches that no longer need to be viewable in an already long list. These novelty things are virtually useless to serious, long term researchers and likely appeal only to those who have no intention to maintain a continuing membership regardless of what you dazzle them with. Thank you for giving us the family group sheets back and making the CM info visible in the list view. Those are helpful changes.

  7. Nancy Thomas

    I appreciate the try, but this new product just doesn’t seem very meaningful. I realize that people use AncestryDNA for different things, but as a dedicated family history researcher, I would have highly preferred a chromosome browser. I feel like I have so many great matches on Ancestry but no tools to evaluate them in a sophisticated and accurate manner. Shared Matches are great, but they only take you so far…

  8. Mike

    I just wish I could still see “Last logged in “on the DNA match list page. Now I can’t tell who might have recently updated their information without clicking on each and every match to see if they’ve logged in recently.

  9. Joan Stewart Smith

    I fear this is another step in continuing to “dumb down” users of AncestryDNA. Where is your chromosome browser? Your key competitors offer a world of color while you’re still in black and white.

  10. Michelle

    How about instead of charging me $10 for things I already know about myself, you give us some useful tools. We need a chromosome browser! You have the largest DNA database, act like it. Those of us doing real genetic genealogy don’t care about the parlor tricks.

  11. Sara Nolan

    I agree with the tools not toys comments. It’s not that I have a problem with traits, but I’m not sure what they add. As for me give me ways to mark matches: multiple colors, the more the merrier . The ability to download into a spreadsheet so we could analyze the data in multiple ways would open up a whole new world of possibilities. And of course, as many have noted, a chromosome browser is basic.

  12. Stephen Schmideg

    You got to be kidding! Why would I pay 10 bucks for useless information. I don’t care about Cilantro. Hire some people who understand what your customers really want and need. Give us some real tool, like the largest segment would be a good start.

  13. Lori

    How about not charging so much for something that might kind of be fun? It’s fluff and not worth much. I agree whole-heartedly with the other posters – give us more useful tools to work with in our trees. Give me away to sort matches into something more useful for me. How about a way to mark people in my tree that are also in a DNA match’s tree?

  14. Connie Duffey

    I have to say this is such a useless tool that as a long term user I find it obscene thAt you are charging for it. Perhaps you should read the comments already made about what is really needed. #toolsnottoys

  15. Christy

    Based on the voices of your loyal customers here, can you imagine what kind of great word of mouth and new renewals you’d have if you just would give them a Chromosome browser? Talk about the best PR, you likely wouldn’t have to even pay for as many commercials as you currently do. Just a thought.

  16. Larry

    For the life of me, Mr. David Sanchez, I do not understand why you are so strident in your refusal to give us a chromosome browser. As the VP of Product, I hope you realize that this is the one product that is lacking and all the other testing companies provide to their customers. I would gladly pay $10 for it, but not for “traits”. I love and couldn’t live without it, but please give us a useful tool instead of “a fun and innovative way for me to further explore who I am and where I come from.”

  17. Imogene

    So now that I’ve filled traits survey I need to pay! I would like a swab DNA for other relatives who don’t spit so well. I also would like people who have not taken a DNA test to stop showing up in my matches. Comforting to view a DNA which doesn’t have a family tree, honesty. Chromosome browser is good. Would you allow National Geographic DNA to be shared on Ancestry website? Among others just for comparison…

  18. Cathie

    How about emphasizing that members build a tree on Ancestry and post some actual documents for their family.
    Starr with yourself ,then add your parents,grandparents on each side, etc.adding as much proof. As you can find.
    That is a real tree.and true genealogy research. Yes it’s lot s of digging but so rewarding.

  19. jack armeni

    I was upset with results of dna for the y factor not being included. Talking to a potential family person in the home land he said it is key to make a connection in home land.

  20. Leah

    As a paying member of since 2002 (at $299.00 / year), you now expext me to pay $9.95 for Ancestry Traits. I don’t think so!

  21. Barbara Taylor

    I agree with all the comments above – this is the last thing I am interested in and certainly not worth paying for. We need real tools not games. I must be an unwilling beta tester as I have had for a while. And, it is inconsistent. I can compare myself to my 3 young grandchildren who tested recently – not my son, my sister, my brother or my granddaughter who all tested on my account before you required separate accounts for adults. Nor to any of the other family tested on my account.

  22. Brian

    This don’t trill me much. I agree with other comments: chromosome browser, better filtering. To add to the list download matches to .csv directly for Ancestry and some form on legacy contacts need to be established to continue managing accounts. Several profiles that I match the relative has expired.

  23. Its Me

    Most of this was covered in simple biology in school. What value does it give me for finding my family? Chromosome browser and so much that has already been stated above is what we need! I could care less about how my earlobe got it’s shape! Please stop wasting time on this nonsense and give us tools for using our DNA to find our folks. This is why we took the test to begin with!

  24. Suzie C

    I need to pay $10 to find out if I like cilantro or not? No thanks. I already know I like cilantro, especially in salsa or guacamole. The fact that most think this traits ‘tool’ is useless is not as funny as the fact that Ancestry wants us to pay for it on top of our regular subscription. At least you didn’t increase the subscription rate mandatorily, and instead gave me a choice to pay….or rather, NOT pay for this useless feature. So I guess I must thank Ancestry for that, at least. I’m just glad to see the consensus on this is pretty much the same.

  25. Diana Kistner

    This new Traits is worthless, I agree with many others give us useful upgrades without charging us more and more. The cost is going to get to the point that I will cancel. I noticed the DNA test kit offered for $50 was only good for new customers?? I might have ordered for family for Christmas gifts, but they don’t want subscription since I’m the family historian

  26. Jojo

    For those that don’t know, while Ancestry is a closed system when it comes to DNA, you can download your Ancestry DNA file and upload it for free to MyHeritage or GEDMATCH, where you will get a lot more tools to work with and of course, probably connect with other matches that are not on Ancestry.

    • Lily

      My thoughts exactly. The people complaining for a calculator just need to upload their raw DNA to one. There are several programs available for free online.

  27. Joyce

    Another tweek we did not need. We need MANY different colored stars so we can separate various branches. We’ve been asking for years…it cannot be THAT hard to program several color stars for Pete’s sake. Please stop with the useless bells and whistles meant to bring in new members…more than 80% of my matches don’t have TREES…making a DNA match to them pretty useless.

    Take care of your older loyal customers…I’ve been on ANC 20 years…WE are the kind of researchers that give you most your info for trees…

    Take care of US…your serious researchers!

  28. Perry Gresham

    I’m new and am awaiting my results. after reading your customers praises. I lost a bunch of excitement. besides I already know where I got my good looks from.

  29. Terthan Markov

    We all know the competition is fierce between AncestryDNA and 23andMe. Traits should have been added, for free, as a new feature; charging your customers an extra fee for this (at best) amusing add-on is disappointing.

    • Jojo

      I think Ancestry’s logic is that “Traits” is part of the higher cost 23andme HEALTH reports. I think 23andme gives a lot more info but the cost of the health component is somewhere around $100, depending on what discounts are currently available. However, I believe that 23and me offer a lot more analysis for one price. Perhaps Ancestry’s idea is to offer a la carte small charge offerings at $10 or $15/each as they develop this idea?

  30. John

    Ancestry appears to be finally trying to copy 23andme, which is OK by me. The next step for ancestry is to add a Chromosome Browser. Next, ancestry should take a look at 23andme’s Relatives in Common Tool which puts ancestry’s Shared Matches Tool to shame! For all those waiting for a chromosome browser, you can transfer you raw DNA files to MyHeritage for free until Dec 1st. Their DNA tools are for serious DNA researchers.

    • Garry Wood

      John, I’m interested in the matches (one particular) not the new ones with the other companies. This person is not on My Heritage, Gedmatch or DNAged and holds the key to my research. A browser on Ancestry would assist in placing this person in a family group. I do not know any of the names in our shared matches.

      • John

        Gary, I get it, we desperately need a Chromosome Browser on ancestry. Most believe we will never get it, but I am seeing cracks in the ancestry resistance. All of their competitors have chromosome browsers, (23andme, FTDNA, MyHeritage, etc) and without a chromosome browser, ancestry will continue to be the romper room of DNA companies. AncestryDNA made a few changes recently and they now show the amount of shared DNA by our matches, instead of hidden behind layers of multiple clicks. The next step is for them to give us matching segment data. But until ancestry gives us access to this data, we have to resort to moving our raw DNA files to companies that have these tools. Ask your match to upload her ancestry raw DNA file to MyHeritage.

        • Garry Wood

          Hi John,
          My problem is she will not respond. I have sent 4 contact messages via Ancestry which I know is excessive. Even her shared matches to me fail to respond. I don’t know why they bothered to test. What makes things worse she is my second cousin (208cM ) and must be a descendant of my unknown person.

  31. Karen

    The new traits option piqued my curiosity. I didn’t really expect to learn much from it, but I was interested to see how accurate it would be. Well, I wasn’t very impressed. Out of the 18 traits, 9 were accurate for me, or mostly so, 3 were difficult to gauge, and 6 were not accurate at all. Those six were hair color, finger length, cilantro aversion, asparagus metabolite, cleft chin, and male hair loss. I suppose the most surprising to me was the hair color. I was told I was likely a brunette with the potential to have redheaded children; that describes both my parents, but not me. I’m a redhead, like my maternal grandmother and one of my paternal great-grandmothers. Then when I read that my male relatives probably didn’t have much hair loss, I had to laugh out loud. All my closest male adult relatives are (or were) quite bald, having lost their hair at a fairly young age! I know there are genetic factors for all of these traits that aren’t yet well understood, but that seemed to be a lot of things wrong. I’m tempted to try 23andme to see if they do any better. Maybe Ancestry’s accuracy will improve once they have a larger database. (And I do agree that there are other features that would be a lot more useful.)

  32. Jonathan D Jackson

    I actually like this feature, as it allows a conversation avenue between the DNA scientists (interpreters) and the actually people who gave samples allowing for greater relationship building and DNA understanding.

    I would suggest that for each trait, a comment field be added to allow the person sampled to state differences that may not show up in simple “check the box” fields. Here is an example, for me in particular, the Traits asks if I have dark brown hair, light brown hair, blonde, etc. Well, for me and my youngest daughter, this is even more apparent, I have BLACK, DARK BROWN, and BLONDE strands of hair. Therefore, a simple checkbox does not really reflect the diversity and therefore does not allow the scientists receiving this information to fully assess its relevance. My youngest daughter would be in a similar, if not a bit more complex, boat having Black, Dark Brown, Blonde, and RED hairs on her head. ALL NATURAL. Me having a sister that’s a red-head and me having multiple color hairs on my head and in my eyebrows, makes this non-surprising to me… her hair stylist is extremely jealous, as she cannot recreate this to the same affect and was wondering HOW she got THAT hair.

    My point being: we are barely understanding how DNA and our physical traits relate or genetic relevance to current populations, migrations, and our ancestral history. All of these things have great significance to the people trying to understand their relationships, and to the people trying to understand themselves and where they come from.

    • Ava Healy

      I think the extra $10 was a really good deal for the traits. That said, it was interesting to me that Ancestry actually had opposite results from 23&Me for earlobe type (mine is detached and that’s what 23&Me said) and Cilantro aversion (hate it and that’s what 23&Me also said, but not Ancestry). Same results for blue/green eyes, light straight hair & light skin. Both Ancestry and 23&Me were wrong for finger length — my index fingers are both much longer than my ring fingers. Ancestry also has traits for male pattern baldness (don’t think 23&Me has that), which does not run in my family and Ancestry confirmed. Ancestry’s geographical genetics has always been closer to what I know than 23&Me, but 23&Me’s latest update is now much closer to Ancestry, so I would recommend Ancestry for that.

  33. Cheryl

    I don’t believe that the folks involved in dreaming up these gimmicks use Ancestry DNA for family research. Strictly marketing people. No way I’d throw away money on this gimmick, but I’d gladly pay an extra charge for access to a chromosome browser. Minimally, why not give us more details on the shared cM and segments, e.g. 10 cM segment on chromosome #1, 20 cM segment on chromosome #4. How about increasing the usefulness of other existing tools? Why not enhance the “shared matches” tool to list all matches I share with another person, not just those that are predicted 4th cousin to me? Why not create a feature that allows those placed in a DNA circle to directly interact with others within the circle to share information (e.g. ability to post comments, add beneficial additional info that can be viewed by others in the circle). Why not give us a button to click to see which matches we DON’T share with a parent, very useful for those of us who have only one parent available for testing.

  34. Susan

    I think Cheryl is right. The people coming up with these useless gimmicks (ancestral play list on Spotify, Traits) clearly have no clue what longtime, repeat customers want. I witnessed a conversation about the current DNA sales yesterday at work, and i Ancestry refuses us access to the data we need while offering us useless gimmicks like this. I have already composed my reply to anyone who might ask me to purchase Traits. I find it insulting, by the way, that Ancestry would try to use other customers to pressure us into purchasing this fluff. You’re sitting on a mountain of DNA gold and refusing to let us benefit from it. Give us our segment data (Chr #, start-stop for each segment) – or, better yet, a chromosome browser. I, too, would pay for that – and not a lousy $10, once, but considerably more than that when I renew my subscription – which I would. #toolsnottoys

  35. Susan

    I think Cheryl is right. The people coming up with these useless gimmicks (ancestral play list on Spotify, Traits) clearly have no clue what longtime, repeat customers want. I witnessed a conversation about the current DNA sales yesterday at work, and i Ancestry refuses us access to the data we need while offering us useless gimmicks like this. I have already composed my reply to anyone who might ask me to purchase Traits. I find it insulting, by the way, that Ancestry would try to use other customers to pressure us into purchasing this fluff. You’re sitting on a mountain of DNA gold and refusing to let us benefit from it. Give us our segment data (Chr #, start-stop for each segment) – or, better yet, a chromosome browser. I, too, would pay for that – and not a lousy $10, once, but considerably more than that when I renew my subscription – which I would. #toolsnottoys

    • Susan

      I accidentally posted before I was done editing. There should be a way to edit these comments, at least within a few minutes after posting.

      • Joyce

        There should be a “like” button too so ppl can agree with various statements and ANC can immediately see how many folks agree with their statements. Many folks just read and do not post…so ANC not getting the full picture. Every SERIOUS researcher I know is quite unhappy about only 1 color star, ANC taking away CSV D/L when they went to “New Ancestry” and not having chromosome tools.

      • Linda Whitmore

        It’s a very small point in the overall conversation posted here, and on every other “Comment” section I have read, including those about recipes and products — editing! I agree with Susan that there should be a way to return to one’s comments and change them if, after the poster has seen it posted, he/she says, “Uh-oh, I made a mistake.” However, since one cannot go back, a poster should carefully read what he/she has said before pressing the “Comment” or “Send” button. Sometimes it is difficult for readers to get the gist of what is being said when words are missing or mistyped. Just sayin’

  36. Delores Cross

    I added the traits out of curiosity, but was disappointed to see that they give me several traits that I do not have, example, naturally straight hair, longer index finger, and darker skin tone. This is not me?

  37. Jen

    For what we pay just to have Ancestry, the Traits feature should be free. I noticed in the fine print that if additional traits come online, they plan to charge additional fees, even to anyone who ponied up the inital $10. Not cool at all. I would add my voice to those who want better tools for the DNA information we already have.

  38. Diana Todd

    I paid for the traits feature for my kit only. I compared Ancestry’s traits for me against 23andme’s results and neither did a good job; too many were wrong.

    I would have loved a chromosome browser, triangulation tools, segment data downloads, a matches csv file with notes and all the data you see on the match’s details page. And we get traits instead. I wish Ancestry would finally get serious about DNA and give us the tools we really need.

  39. Janet J.

    I agree with the comments about Traits, in no way am I paying extra for this. Besides, 23andme already hit it out of the park with their reports. Much more expansive and absolutely spot on. Can’t wait to see what more in store they have.

  40. Traits. Please create a survey for us AncestryDNA users that will measure the level of our trait of bigotry. Based upon the 90 AncestryDNAs that I Manage, I find that the more genetically diverse people are the least bigoted. Is this because of their genes or because they were raised in a more diverse community? I’ve also found that when I show these people that they are more diverse than they had realized, they act less bigoted. It’s as if they change from “us” OR “them” to “us” AND “them”. It makes them more peaceful. So, AncestryDNA, I ask you to do this on a grand global scale far beyond my 90 DNAs. Use your DNA power to make the earth more peaceful. No matter what the color of their eyes, shape of earlobes, color of skin, or dislike of brussel sprouts, all Miss World contestants want “world peace”.

  41. Ken

    I can’t really imagine why anyone would find this useful, much less worth $10. Count me among the multitude who would like to have real tools, like a chromosome browser, or better filtering, or sorting, or showing common matches beyond the fourth generation so I can identify my 4g-grandmother.

  42. Susan Eshleman

    I would love to know why my daughter has curly hair and I have straight hair, but I’d like to see a sample report before I fork over money for this. Does it show the impact of various SNPS? How much detail is contained in the report?

    • Ann

      You can easily download your CSV gene file and then go to SNPpedia to look up different genes. For example, 23&Me does not tell you what version of the APOe gene you have, but with 23&Me’s CSV file I could tell that I was homozygous for APOe3 (with Ancestry’s I could only narrow it down to APOe2 or 3 but not 4 because it did not include both SNPs you need to know). I could also use (I think either Ancestry’s or 23&Me’s) CSV file to confirm other things I wanted to know, for example if I had or did not have the most common BRCA mutations (23&Me subsequently started reporting that and confirmed my results). So, you can do that. Ancestry’s geographical/ethnicity data has been more on point than 23&Me’s, however 23&Me’s latest update is much closer.

  43. Julie Condy Johns

    This should be a part of Ancestry without have an upcharge for it. Then it only works with those who have paid for it. Why bother then? With 23& Me it is a part of the service without added charge (and it not useful at that). A toy rather than a tool. I agree with those above who have mentioned a chromosome browser and better filtering options. Diana Todd’s comment is spot on as follows: ” I would have loved a chromosome browser, triangulation tools, segment data downloads, a matches csv file with notes and all the data you see on the match’s details page.” The cm comparison is an improvement. How about more improvements like that which are a part of the monthly or annual fee? I am a World member and continue to use your service. However the Traits is not something I will pay extra for.

  44. B

    A question to those asking for a special chromosone browser. Have you tried researching the old fashioned way? I am thinking if you try, you might be able to sort out which matches are paternal & which are maternal.

    Also remember that it is possible that our ancestors share common roots going back a couple generations. In the past it was not uncommon that distant cousins marry.

  45. Ben

    Would very much rather be able to see Haplogroups! I have people tested that come from an all male line, so knowing their Haplogroup would be tremendously helpful!

  46. Andy David

    Silly stuff. I wouldnt pay extra for this. I cancelled my yearly subscription some time ago when I hit the wall of finding useful links. To get me to resub I see that some of my new “hints” were actually stuff I added a long time ago!

  47. Renita Jeffers Stone

    I was just about to pay for the treats and by reading all these comments I don’t even think I should do it now 🙁

  48. Renita Jeffers Stone

    I was just about to pay for the treats and by reading all these comments I don’t even think I should do it now 🙁


    Hi! May I personally tell each of you a great big “Thank You” for your writing and expressing your selves through this Blog. Often I have asked myself how to express my feelings about myself and those many great people that have crossed my path through the past 70 years. For the longest time I have wanted to find out who I really am. Why is it so darn difficult to ‘just let it out” as some of you have shared? I would like to express my disdain, my friendship, my love and admiration, my gratitude to those many who have done exactly that to me. Sometimes I wonder if it might just be that my yearning has become more of a “Gratirude” rather than a pure gratitude episode. Being ‘gratirude’ if more or less an unforgiving, personal disdain for a particular episode in ones life; be it self-destroying, or possibly certain unknown characteristic forgotten or maybe even a simple uncaring experience that one does not wish to have. So generally the notion become an unfaultable refuge into oneself, where “Private” is inscribed precariously deep inside, where no other has even come near to feel, acknowledge or faithfully know. It would seem that it is less inconspicuous or even obscene to intertwine ones own thoughts, feelings permeated with faith, and physical involvement, as well as observed self-acceptance, has correctly seeped into its sincerest attitude resembling austere moments of peculiar fantasy. How then does one bring to closure that which has not been fully inserted with gentle and forgiving secrecy and evolved profoundly in concert with life as is grasped with full intent to the exceptional beauty of perfect self? If you agree with this pending, yet most important view of self-life, please respond in like manner, wherein togetherness might be exuded throughout the familial, you would be strangely emulate exactly that which I would simply implore of you. This is how I would have my entire ‘self’ be counted for far more than naught, with praise and truth coupled together gently akin to my less lingering of the “gratirude” than is merciful; gratefully embellished-proven. Seeking clearly oneself and shared with another, surely is answerably complete. Thank you, Ed v.

  50. Maureen Snow

    This site is already so expensive I can’t maintain it, and you’re not keeping up with what’s available on the other sites. Traits is just a way for you to make another $10 off us. Is your subscription price high because you need to pay people to come up with these toys?

  51. Richard

    What a rip off. I expected to find out something I did not know. I know my eye and hair color, but I did not know my chance of hair loss is very low. I have not had hair for 20 years.

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