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News from Family Tree DNA

This is the time of year when genetic genealogy goes on sale — and 2013 is no exception. Family Tree DNA has just announced its big sale prices on most of the key tests for genetic genealogy — and a pre-release sale price on a new YDNA test called the Big Y.

The end of year sale

For most of us, the prices we’re interested in are the end-of-year prices on the standard DNA tests we use day in and day out.

FTDNA.sale.2013.2Sale prices for these regular every-day DNA tests and test products end December 31st.

For those who want to add their autosomal results from another company to the database at Family Tree DNA — to fish for cousins in the FTDNA pond after testing with AncestryDNA or 23andMe — the sale price is $49, down from the regular price of $69.

And for new tests, here’s the line-up of prices (good through December 31 for kits bought and paid for by then):

Test

Regular Price

Sale Price

mtDNA Full Sequence

$199

$169

Y-DNA37

$169

$119

Y-DNA67

$268

$189

Y-DNA111

$359

$289

Family Finder + Y-DNA37

$268

$218

Family Finder + Y-DNA67

$367

$288

Family Finder + mtDNAFullSequence

$298

$268

Y-DNA67 + mtDNAFullSequence

$467

$358

Y-DNA67 + mtDNAPlus

$218

$168

Y-DNA37 + mtDNAFullSequence

$368

$288

Comprehensive Genome (Y-DNA67, FMS & FF)

$566

$457

Big Y test

There’s also a lot of buzz in the genetic genealogy community about the announcement by Family Tree DNA of its Big Y test.

This is essentially the Big Daddy test — for men only, since YDNA is the type of DNA that only men have and that is passed down from father to son to son in an unbroken male line.

Where, today, the typical YDNA test looks at a small portion of the YDNA looking for short tandem repeat (STR) markers, this test will look at somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 million base pairs and approximately 25,000 SNPs.

And where the most extensive regular YDNA test — 111 markers at Family Tree DNA — will set you back $359 ($289 on sale right now), the Big Y test is available right now for a pre-release price of $495, and will be $695 when the discount ends December 1st.

So… you may be sitting there thinking The Legal Genealogist is going to push this one. After all, I’ve never met a DNA test I wouldn’t take (or get a brother or uncle to take if I couldn’t). And I think this is a terrific test, with the potential to tell us more about our direct male lines than anything that’s ever been developed.

But it’s not for everybody. And it’s not where I’d put my first DNA testing dollars by any means.

For most of us, we can learn everything we really need to know about our direct paternal lines from a genealogical standpoint with the Y-37 or Y-67 marker tests.

My primary point in having one of my uncles tested, for example, was to make sure that our wily ancestor George Washington Cottrell had started life as a Cottrell and hadn’t changed his name when he started — shall we say engaging with the forces of the law. The test proved that he was always a Cottrell.

With my Baker line, our purpose was in finding out if our ancestor Thomas Baker of Virginia was descended, as the family stories said, from Alexander Baker of Boston. The test proved that he wasn’t.

With my Gentry line, the purpose was to see if our Mississippi Gentrys could be linked to the original Nicholas Gentry of Virginia. And the test proved that they were.

What the Big Y will do, generally, is much deeper than these kinds of questions, helping analyze the YDNA family tree down to its very basic configuration. It’s going to be useful primarily for folks who can’t get their answers with the other YDNA tests. Roberta Estes of the DNAeXplained blog noted yesterday (read it here) that it’s really designed for men who fall into two categories: those who’ve already taken the 111-marker tests and still need more information to separate out family lines (adoptees trying to distinguish this surname from that surname, for example, or if it was needed to tell these Bakers from those Bakers); and those who are curious and want to help advance science.

So while it’s a wonderful test and a great advance, don’t start there if your budget is limited.

And if your budget isn’t limited, let’s talk… I’ve got some great ideas and …

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