Family Finder Y-DNA Haplogroups

Autosomal Tests and Y-Haplogroup

In the autosomal tests from 23andme and Living DNA, the Y-haplogroups have always been displayed directly, whereas in the autosomal tests from My Heritage and Ancestry, the Y-haplogroup can only be extracted from the raw data using tools such as the Morley Predictor or the YSEQ Clade Finder. This was not previously possible with FamilytreeDNA’s Family Finder, as the Y-SNPs were removed from the raw data, making it the only autosomal test that did not contain any information on the Y-haplogroup. I had already described this in the article Y-haplogroup from atDNA raw data. This is now changing, as FamilytreeDNA has decided to directly report the Y-haplogroup using the Y-SNPs, tested in the Family Finder. In this article, I will use my own Y-haplogroup I-L38 to show what this means and what advantages I hope to gain from it.

When and with whom is the Family Finder Y haplogroup how displayed?

FTDNA presented a timetable back in the summer, which could not be adhered to. However, the order in which the results are gradually arriving is likely to be as follows.

  • Family Finder customers with new results will receive their haplogroup with their results.
  • For Family Finder customers who received their results between March 2019 and December 2023, the Y haplogroup will be displayed first.
  • Family Finder customers with results before March 2019 are next.
  • Autosomal Transfer customers who have unlocked their full results come after.

It will still take some time before all kits are processed. A little patience is therefore required. When the time comes, there will be differences in the presentation and depth of the results. This is where the table from the old article comes into its own.

TestFTDNAMy Heritage v1
(before ca. 03.2019)
My Heritage v2
(after ca. 04.2019)

This should no longer be up-to-date with the introduction, but you can see a nice little detail. It is known that FTDNA uses the same chip for the Family Finder as My Heritage. For this reason, the tests after March 2019 are also considered first. As with My Heritage v2, these have a higher number of Y-SNPs tested compared to the previous tests. Family Finder tests with the chip from March 2019 onwards will therefore provide more accurate results than those before March 2019.

The display of the Y-haplogroup will be done by the badges. As Ancestry and 23andme are not lab-to-lab transfers, haplogroups from these uploads will only be shown to the testers themselves and will not be shared with matches or shown in group projects. If you do the Family Finder test at FTDNA or upload the test from My Heritage, the Y-haplogroup will also be visible in the group projects. Y-DNA Matches and Family Finder Matches can also see the Y-Haplogroup.

First results from the I-L38 Project

Some of our I-L38 Project members have recently received their results for the Family Finder. Two of them already had a Big Y 700, so nothing has changed in their Y haplogroup badge. Also for existing Single SNPs and SNP Pack tests, where a more precise haplogroup was verified than is possible with the Family Finder, nothing has changed. For three members who previously only had a Y-STR test, the prediction of the Y haplogroup was changed from I-M170 to I-S2606. For one member, it changed from I-M170 to I-S27697, a SNP that belongs to I-BY14072. The sub-branches of the members were already known, as we I-L38 admins were already able to make a more precise prediction based on the Y-STR markers.

The Haplotree & SNPs is used to display the tested SNPs, in which the purchased individual SNPs or SNP packs are shown. However, only the positively tested SNPs are marked in green. The negatively tested SNPs are unfortunately not marked in red, but are not shown. Single SNPs and SNPs from SNP Packs that have already been purchased appear in red in addition to those from the Family Finder. The following table shows which SNPs are included in which test (work in progress):

Haplogroup LevelSNPFamily Finder
(after 03.2019)
Family Finder
(before 03.2019)
teilw. no call
teilw. no call

Family Finder (after 03.2019)
Six SNPs from the I-L38 block and two SNPs from the S11321 block are tested. In addition, the SNPs S2606, BY1183, as well the BY14072 SNPs L533 and S27697, from the I-L38 subgroups are tested. This will make it possible to distinguish whether someone belongs to the S2606 sub-branch, BY1183 to the S27697 or L533 sub-branch, only to the main branch I-L38 or only to the superordinate group S11321. Testers that belong to a different subgroup of S2519 or only to S2497 only appear as S11321. If Cheddar Man were to do a Family Finder test, he would only get an S11321 badge even though he belongs to group S2497. What is strange here is that a tester with S27697 was not tested for the SNPs S2546 and S2574. I will keep an eye on this for a while. The following table (work in progress) shows which badge you get, depending on the subgroup and version of the Family Finder.

Haplogroup Level“Terminal” SNPs
(after 03.2019)
Y-Haplogroup Badge
(after 03.2019)
“Terminal” SNPs
(before 03.2019)
Y-Haplogroup Badge
(before 03.2019)
I-M170>>>S11321>>>L38>unknownL38, L39, L40, L65.1,
FGC29574, S2574
I-M170>>>S11321>>>L38>BY14072L38, L39, L40, L65.1,
FGC29574, S2574
I-M170>>>S11321>>>L38>BY14072>Y104047L38, L39, L40, L65.1,
FGC29574, S2574

So far, only a few newer Family Finder tests have been processed. As soon as more details of the other versions are available, this article and the tables will be updated accordingly.

I assume that FTDNA sells more Family Finder tests than Y-STR tests and even more than Big Y 700, which increases the chance of finding interesting rare Y-haplogroups, provided that enough SNPs of a SNP block are tested. In our case, six SNPs of the I-L38 block are tested. If all six SNPs are positive, the tester definitely belongs to I-L38 or one of the subgroups. However, if some of these SNPs and the other tested SNPs of the subgroups are negative, it could actually be a previously unknown haplogroup. Of course, this would first have to be verified with suitable tests. Unfortunately, an inexperienced customer will not be able to determine this themselves and will simply ignore it.
Therefore: Join the Y-haplogroup projects!!! This cannot be repeated often enough.

Is the determination of the Y-haplogroup by Family Finder or other autosomal DNA tests with Y-SNPs more accurate than a Y-STR test?

Occasionally you hear people claiming that the determination of Y-haplogroups with SNP tests is much more accurate than with Y-STR tests. Is that true? Not really, because there are a few “buts” here, as not all SNPs are the same. Simple SNP tests are only used to test very old SNPs, such as S2606 in this case. This one is about 4700 years old. One should not be deceived by the fact that a Y-STR test only provides an even older prediction of I-M170. With the Y-STR markers you can achieve a much more accurate prediction with a little practice, as the Y-Haplogroups Project Admins have. That is why it is also very important to join the Y-Haplogroup projects.
The “supreme discipline” for Y-DNA tests is NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) such as a Big Y 700 or a WGS (Whole Genome Sequencing), which can be uploaded to In my opinion, Y-STR tests with a decreasing number of Y-STR markers come next in the ranking.) In addition, matching with Y-STR tests is inexpensive, as NGS tests are not cheap. SNP packs and single SNPs can sometimes achieve reasonable results, but in my opinion they are not up to date and are useless for matching. It is better to save on an NGS and go all in.

What do I hope to gain from this new function?

I was very pleased when I heard that FTDNA will show Y-haplogroups with Family Finder tests.

As co-admin of the I-L38 project
The Y-haplogroup can be predicted very well with the Y-STR markers, but the normal tester only looks at the Y-haplogroup badge. Unfortunately, Y-STR testers of the Y-haplogroup I-L38 have only received the prediction I-M170. This haplogroup is very old and not too specific. People do not know what to do with their Y-STR markers, do not know how important it is to join haplogroup projects, are disappointed and seriously believe that their test at 23andme or Living DNA gave a better determination, which of course is nonsense.
If I-L38 and I-S2606 are now listed instead of I-M170, I, as co-admin of the I-L38 Project, hope that more testers will be able to identify with their Y-haplogroup and that interest in the topic of Y-DNA will increase. If the testers realise that they belong to I-L38, they will hopefully be more likely to join our project.
In addition, it is easier to find the I-L38 cousins in the autosomal matches than if only I-M170 is given, which is also given for other subgroups such as I-L596, to invite them to our project. There we admins can analyse the Y-STR markers if necessary and determine the subgroup in more detail.

As a tester of the Y-haplogroup I-L38
My personal hope as a tester is that I can see the Y-haplogroups of my autosomal matches from my region immediately and without detours. I am looking for people with the Y-haplogroup I-L38 from Greece and the southern Balkans. This Y-haplogroup is very rare there and I expect that I now have an additional tool to find potential candidates for more accurate testing. My goal is to find out how this Y-haplogroup from the north arrived in this area.

Another point is that I am working on a rough statistic for my region of origin. The rough Y-haplogroup determination is sufficient for these statistics. I have had to test most of the people in my region myself. I was able to get a few autosomal matches to determine the haplogroup using Morley Predictor and YSEQ Clade Finder. This could be easier with the new Family Finder. Unfortunately, I have most of the matches at My Heritage. I hope that many matches will transfer their raw data from My Heritage to FTDNA and unlock it. However, it would be brilliant if My Heritage followed FTDNA’s example and also displayed the haplogroups.

Other testers researching their surname can immediately see in their match list if a match with the surname they are looking for belongs to the wrong Y-haplogroup. In the case of rare Y-haplogroups such as I-L38, it is relatively safe to assume that rare surnames belong to certain clusters. This is only the case with rare Y-DNA and rare names. The more frequently Y-DNA and surnames occur, the less certain it becomes. Of course, this must first be confirmed by more in-depth tests such as Y-STR or NGS tests.

1 thought on “Family Finder Y-DNA Haplogroups”

  1. Pingback: First fruits from Greece of the Family Finder Y haplogroups destination for I-S11321, ancestor of I-L38 – ΑΝΤΩΝΙΟΣ ΔΝΑ PROJECT

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