My mom and my sister both did the 23andMe ancestry test, and their results were ready in just 15 days from receipt at the lab where their samples were tested. This is the semi-instant gratification for which I longed back when I started genetic genealogy tests in late 2015. All 28 days I waited for my 23andMe results felt like a month a piece. I distracted my impatience by building a family tree on Ancestry; it held more than 2,000 ancestors by the time my results were ready.
In the intervening 18 months, I’ve grown attached to that initial chromosome painting. While the science behind it simply isn’t refined enough to guarantee its accuracy, it still seems the best of the geographical estimates I’ve done:
Now that my mom’s results are ready, the company will phase our results against each other, sharpening the estimates. Once this phasing takes place, I will no longer see the chromosome painting above in my account. I hope I can let go of it easily in favor of a result that will likely be a bit more accurate.
Through the DNA tab on the DNA relatives tool on the site, I have been able to see a chart where my siblings and I have matching DNA, both half identical and fully identical. I have made a screen cap of our first 11 chromosomes (including more would have made the details too tiny):
My sister is in purple while my brother is in orange. The deeper tones indicate where we are fully identical (i.e. inherited the same stretch of genetic sequences from both Mom and Dad, in the same order). There’s a significant stretch of chromosome 9 that is darkened on both bars. On these segments, we are “triplets” to each other. There are other shorter stretches where all three of us are identical, yet I also see some lonely double gray segments where we inherited entirely opposite segments from our parents.
Among the major testing companies, 23andMe has the best combination of clarity and accuracy. It genealogy features are thin compared to AncestryDNA, but my experience with the information on Ancestry leads me to think that a significant amount of the information related to distant matches there is unreliable or coincidental. Since both of my parents have tested there, I have checked their matches with some of my Shared Ancestor Hints and found that a significant number of them are misleading. For example, some of my paternal tree hints are actually matched to my mother. That my tree intersects with that match on the opposite side of my family tree is just coincidence. Worse yet, it’s impossible to see the family trees of your matches without a pricey Ancestry subscription or individual invitations to match trees.
Now that 23andMe offers an ancestry-only test at a price that is equal to that of AncestryDNA, I’d recommend starting with 23andMe if you haven’t already taken such a test and are interested in trying one. I’ve noticed that many people who enjoy their first test end up testing with both companies anyway, if my matches are any indication. I see many familiar names across both sites.
On 23andMe, there is a world map in the Ancestry Composition section that broadly represents where your ancestors were living around 500 years ago. My mom had more of the world painted in her map, and this curiously reflects how much more broad her perspective seems compared to mine at times: