Although I’ve tested my DNA with 23andMe, I can’t use my own DNA reports to check what the company does with Y-DNA. However, I’ve taken a detailed look at the 23andMe reports for male customers.
This article shows you what Y-DNA information you can expect from a 23andMe DNA test.
Does 23andMe Test Y-DNA?
23andMe does limited testing of the Y chromosome. Male customers are given their paternal Haplogroup along with a visual report and patrilineal timeline. The time frame starts with our first male ancestor and ends many thousands of years ago.
Both male and female 23andMe customers are given a link to a “Paternal Haplogroup” report.
This is a little misleading for female customers as they do not have a Y chromosome. Their report is a general scientific description about paternal haplogroups.
Male customers get a 23andMe paternal Haplogroup report based on a limited analysis of their Y chromosome.
The 23andMe Y-DNA Haplogroup Report For Male Customers
Every paternal Haplogroup report starts with a snippet of information about our earliest male ancestor. This basically tells you the location (East Africa) and a time frame of over 275 thousand years ago.
But the report also gives you your exact paternal haplogroup. A timeline shows the link from your first male ancestor to the earliest appearance of this haplogroup. This male ancestor will have lived about 11 thousand years ago.
The report includes a visual representation of where your paternal Haplogroup fits in a worldwide pattern of Y chromosomes. This pattern is a tree of paternal Haplogroups. Let’s say you have the R Haplogroup which is prevalent in western Europe. You can see where you fit in the timeline below.
You can use the interactive map on the Report page to see the patterns of migration of your paternal lineage. The example below shows migration from the first male ancestor (the A haplogroup) in east Africa. The migration moves north toward the Red Sea (DE). And then west into Europe (haplogroup E).
As the timeline moves on, you get lengthy and detailed descriptions of the haplogroups in your paternal line.
The timeline gets close to the finish at the earliest appearance of your specific paternal haplogroup. This is over 430 generations back!
The final piece of the timeline tells you how rare or common your paternal haplogroup is. It’s interesting to see where you stand compared to all other 23andMe male customers.
Your Paternal Haplogroup and the Y-DNA Haplogroup Tree
If you’re interested in learning more about your paternal haplogroup, then you should check out the resources on the ISOGG website. ISOGG is the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.
Here is the index to pages dedicated to the Y-DNA Haplogroup Tree.
The index page is divided into links for each of the Haplogroup letters. Take the first letter of your paternal Haplogroup and dive into the spreadsheet!
A Full Example Of A 23andMe Y-DNA Haplogroup Report
As a woman, I can’t give you a full example of 23andMe’s paternal Haplogroup report.
However, Andreas West has kindly made his 23andMe report public. It can be found at this link
Female 23andMe Customers Do Not Get A Y-DNA Haplogroup
Women do not inherit a Y chromosome. So Y-DNA information cannot be provided for 23andMe female customers.
However, 23andMe still provides a link to a paternal haplogroup “report” to women. This is basically a sales pitch to test a brother or father!
It’s important to understand how your different male relatives give information about different paternal lines. Your brother and father’s Y DNA both represent your father’s paternal line.
But suppose you’re actually interested in your maternal grandfather’s paternal lineage. Your brother will not be useful here, as his Y chromosome is inherited from your father. So you would need to get access to a maternal uncle or male cousin on your mother’s side of the family.
If this isn’t clear or seems a little complicated, check out my book recommendation at the end of this article.
Where Can You Get More Detailed Y-DNA Tests?
The 23andMe DNA test is an autosomal test with limited analysis of the male Y chromosome. 23andMe does not sell a Y-DNA test, so you’ll have to go elsewhere for more.
FamilyTreeDNA is the major company that provides specific Y-DNA tests. There are other companies out there, but FamilyTreeDNA has a great advantage of a well-established database of Y-DNA testers.
Taking a Y-DNA test with FamilyTreeDNA lets you compare your results with other testers to find patrilineal relatives. There are several different tests available at different prices.
The background to the different forms of Y-DNA testing can seem a little complicated.
Autosomal testing from companies like Ancestry and 23andMe has become mainstream. So, there’s a lot of good introductory explanations in online resources. But Y-DNA testing is more niche, and some of the online material is at quite an advanced level.
If you want a readable introduction pitched at beginner level, I recommend Blaine Bettinger’s introductory textbook on genetic genealogy. This book covers all mainstream DNA testing, so it’s not dedicated to Y-DNA. But there is one detailed and informative chapter about Y-Chromosomal testing.
I’ve got a detailed review of Bettinger’s book, or you can check it out on Amazon.
I did notice one out-of-date reference to a defunct online resource. The chapter mentions WorldFamilies.Net as a good resource, but that website was retired in 2018. Apart from that, the book should be a great launch point into your DNA testing journey.
More Articles About 23andMe
We have a companion article on the 23andMe mtDNA test. It includes a description and screenshots of my maternal haplogroup report so you know what to expect!
You can check out all our articles on 23andMe by browsing the category on our blog.
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