By sending out a sample of your DNA to a company such as 23andMe, you can find out if you have any relatives. I was curious as to how many relatives you can find by conducting a DNA test.
When I took the test, I was quite surprised by the number of relatives 23andMe finds, with your DNA sample. On average, you can expect to find at least 1000 relatives, which is quite astounding.
Now I would like you to know that I am an American, but I have a huge diversity when it comes to my ancestors. For instance, Ashkenazi, Scottish, Welsh, English, and German are the roots of some of my ancestors. I also have a couple of ancestors who are French and Irish. Keep in mind that none of my close relatives choose to take part in the test. The results that I got were remarkable because I didn’t expect to get so many matches. For instance, I have more than 120 second and third cousins, over 170 fourth cousins, and greater than 610 distant cousins. If you add up all these figures, it reaches 900 cousins.
Again, I also tried my luck on Ancestry, to see if I can find more relatives. According to Ancestry, I have less than five third and fourth cousins, 47 who fall under the fourth to sixth cousins category, and over 3,300 fifth to eighth cousins. I have contacted a lot of these cousins, to see if they have a family tree. Through this approach, I have come across cousins, who I had no idea, even existed. I also got the opportunity to learn more about my ancestors, due to which I was able to find more matches.
If you use a mathematical approach, with the assumption that every ancestor had two to four children who reproduce as the benchmark. You hit 1000 by the time you reach the fourth and fifth cousins. Also, it is important to know that the number of people who took the test only represents a fraction of the US population.
Another interesting thing to note is the way 23andMe functions, when you get more than 1000 relatives. A friend of mine had taken the test, as he was curious about his relatives. Once he got 1000 matches, he asked his relatives to share their genomes, so that he could continue to find more people. As he was nearing the 2,000 mark, 23andMe started deleting some of the smaller matches, in favor of the higher ones.
Now the number 1000 comes from the fact that 23andMe only had access to DNA of over a hundred thousand people. Now that they have more than five million people on their database, the number of cousins go up significantly. The reason why 23andMe places a cap of 1000 is to make the data for their customers manageable.
It will be interesting to see what the company will do once more Europeans and Asians send their DNA samples!