See how you connect with more than 80,000 Big Y testers, 2,000 ancient DNA samples, and 100 famous historical figures – all connected in a large family tree with almost 60,000 genetic ancestors (haplogroups).

As our name implies, FamilyTreeDNA has always been about connecting family trees using DNA. We have two types of trees:

  • Family trees that genealogists use to document the results of their research, with ancestors, descendants, and life events like marriages, births, and deaths.
  • Genetic trees are built based on uniparental (inherited from a single parent) genetic markers from hundreds of thousands of DNA test results. These trees are constructed entirely without any historical records or genealogies. They span all known paternal and maternal lineages in the world over hundreds of thousands of years and connect every person on the planet.

Big Y Testing is Causing a Family Tree Boom

Big Y testing has led to a massive explosion of historical and prehistoric genetic branches on the great Tree of Humankind. With about a thousand haplogroups being added to the Y-DNA Haplotree each month. Each of those haplogroups represents a new pinpointed genetic ancestor and an unbroken lineage of father-son relationships that came before him.

Genealogists often try to identify the connections between shared genetic ancestors, proven to exist just by the fact of shared DNA signatures, and the “real” genealogical ancestors who have names and life stories. And when that is not possible because of lack of historical records, inferences can be made about what happened before.

The Block Tree: A SNP Based View

Big Y users will be familiar with the Block Tree; a display of the Big Y tree structure with a SNP scale. The Block Tree highlights how many genetic mutations have been associated with each lineage on the tree. With a rough estimate of the time that typically passes between mutations, one can count the number of SNP mutations on a lineage and make inferences about when a specific shared ancestor may have lived.

Block Tree view of Y-DNA haplogroup I-Y20218. The SNP axis on the left represents evolutionary time. You can compare this view with the Time Tree view under FamilyTreeDNA Testers in the Time Tree.
Block Tree view of Y-DNA haplogroup I-Y20218. The SNP axis on the left represents evolutionary time.

The Time Tree: A Time Based View

We have taken all the FamilyTreeDNA Discover™ reports and their timing together, and drawn a historical and prehistoric genetic family tree with a time perspective. We call this the Time Tree.

The Block Tree (a SNP based view) compared to the Time Tree (a time based view).
The Block Tree (a SNP based view) compared to the Time Tree (a time based view).

TMRCA Age Estimates in the Time Tree

The new Big Y age estimates in FamilyTreeDNA Discover take more factors into account thanks to a recent upgrade. This upgrade estimates when the shared most recent common ancestor lived for almost 60,000 haplogroups.

Notable Connections in the Time Tree

Notable Connections also highlights haplogroup connections to historical figures and entire clans and families, who also lived or were founded in specific times in history.

Abraham Lincoln

The Time Tree can show how your paternal line connects with famous historical figures. Abraham Lincoln’s living relatives have specified that they are from England, and a more distant relative is from Germany.
A view of the Time Tree where Abraham Lincoln appears.

Desmond Tutu and Kindoki 2

Just over 4,000 years ago, South African civil rights activist Desmond Tutu shares a paternal line ancestor with Kindoki 2, a historical archaeological sample from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We add more Ancient Connections to the Y-DNA tree on a weekly basis.
A view of the Time Tree where Desmond Tutu and Kindoki 2 appear.

Ancient DNA in the Time Tree

There is also new content with time perspectives, such as ancient DNA from archaeological studies with carbon dates that anchor the ancient individuals to specific times in history.

Remote Oceania

Time Tree view of Y-DNA haplogroup O-F18855 which aligns well with the seaward expansion of Austronesian-speaking people and the first settlements of The Moana (remote Oceania) around 1500 BCE. Shown here are ancient individuals from Taiwan and Wallacea, Indonesia, as well as two distinct descendant groups in central and southern Oceania, including Samoa, Tōtaiete mā, Niue, Tonga, Fiji, and Aotearoa (New Zealand).
A view of the Time Tree with ancient individuals from the Remote Oceania.

Ötzi the Iceman

Ötzi the Iceman, from the Alps between Austria and Italy, who lived over 5,000 years ago, has paternal line relatives in present-day Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland and Czech Republic, in addition to Italy, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (not shown).
A view of the Time Tree where Ötzi the Iceman appears.

Oxford 4

Y-DNA haplogroup R-BY67003 represents the ancestor of Oxford 4 (VK166), a Dane Viking found in St John’s College, Oxford. He is believed to have been killed in the St Brice’s Day massacre on November 13, 1002 CE. His closest paternal line relatives are 3 Big Y customers with self-reported paternal line ancestry from England and the United States.
A view of the Time Tree where Oxford 4 appears.

FamilyTreeDNA Testers in the Time Tree

And last but not least, there is a great number of DNA testers, the leaves of the tree, spanning a hundred years of relatively recent birth dates.
A view of the Time Tree with current testers shown.

The Time Tree shows a genetic family tree of direct paternal lineages on a time scale. It shows how you are related to other people from the past and present and when your shared ancestors are estimated to have lived.

To get started, visit FamilyTreeDNA Discover!

Technical Details

  • The Discover reports are updated on a weekly basis, so it will take about a week before new test results, branches, ancient, and notable samples are visible on the Time Tree.
  • When you look at older haplogroups with many testers, Present-day Testers are automatically hidden because of display limitations. Ancient and Notable connections remain visible.
  • The Present-Day tester flag icons are positioned at the approximate birth year of the person, rounded to the nearest 25 years (roughly one generation). If the user has not specified a birth date, the Time Tree defaults to the year 1950. You can configure the birth year in your FamilyTreeDNA Account Settings. Specifying your birth year can also help improve the TMRCA estimates.
  • You can use the Display Options to select what data to show and to adjust the scale. If you ever find yourself lost, just click the Reset icon.

Time Tree Settings

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