AncestryDNA’s May 2016 NAD Update

In the past couple of days Ancestry has updated the list of NADs (New Ancestor Discoveries). AncestryDNA subscribers can now login to see an updated list of NADs. There has been quite a bit of conversation about the accuracy of this update. My advice– ignore any new NADs for now.

Previous to the update I had two NADs for my own kit. These two NADs were from one couple and was plausible. In fact, it could turn out to be the biggest lead I have on one of my most stubborn brick walls. With the new update those two NADs are gone.

In its place are twenty-nine new NADs. I’ve gone through each of them and none of them look plausible. Not even close. For the majority of them I don’t have any ancestors who lived within hundreds of miles of the NADs. Looking beyond each NAD at their parents, I still don’t see a hint of any connection.

At first I thought it could be an issue with my own kit, so I pulled up my Mom’s kit. She now has twenty-nine new NADs as well, though there are a few which differ from my twenty-nine. Again, not one looks believable.

Many of the NADs seem to share two patterns. Many of them wind up in Utah, a place where it would be near impossible to have any ancestors from. Sure, they could be first or second cousins to actual ancestors, but even that is unlikely. Second, many of the male NADs married four or more times. (Perhaps coupled with their Utah roots, I haven’t checked if they were Morman.)

There are two things that might have happened. Ancestry’s DNA team might be about to learn something new and important about shared DNA. Or, something technical could have gone wrong with the update itself causing bad NADs.

I feel it is unlikely these NADs will stick around in your family for a long time, so don’t cozy up to them much. If this is a technical issue I’d expect a fix might roll out within a few days or a few weeks. If these annoying relatives stick around, rejoice that Ancestry’s team is learning something important. But don’t share your intimate secrets with your new uncle Ned.

Tim Flight

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I'm a web application developer, generally working with PHP and MySQL. I'm also a genealogist with primary research expertise in New England, the Maritimes of Canada, and Sweden. And I'm a former National Champion snowboarder. Formerly I was a full-time professional blogger.

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