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Sharing results from 23andMe

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This article was written in 2013. Some information may no longer be accurate. If you are looking for the 2017 tool for extracting Y-DNA data from 23andMe raw results, see here. You do not need an account at to use this tool.

This information is for male Morleys that have already tested with 23andMe and want to participate in the Morley Y-DNA project.


Recall that Y-DNA is DNA on the Y-chromosome that is transmitted from father to son -- in the same manner that surnames are transmitted.

The recommended lab for this project is Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), because this company offers the most extensive Y-DNA products. 23andMe is a good company as well, but its products have a different focus.

Without going in to too much detail, FTDNA tests Y-DNA features called STRs, which are useful for Y-DNA research on a genealogical timeframe (i.e. within the last 1,000-2,000 years). 23andMe instead tests Y-DNA features called SNPs, which occur less frequently (and in unpredictable locations) and are mainly useful in a Y-DNA context for anthroplogical purposes (i.e. within the last 10,000-20,000 years). However, if you are lucky, your Morley family will have a SNP mutation that has been detected, and is rare/recent enough to distinguish your Morley family from the other Morley families.

So SNPs do have genealogical value. SNPs can be estimated from STR signatures. And Family Tree DNA also offers SNP tests on the Y chromosome, to confirm these estimates. SNPs therefore offer some common ground between the FTDNA and 23andMe products.

Your most recent (terminal) Y-DNA SNP determines your Y-DNA haplogroup. Think of haplogroups as a "genetic clan". Haplogroups have long names (such as R1b1b2) or short names (such as R1b-M269 or alternatively R-M269). The long name describes the haplogroup's place in the current hierarchy (which is changing all the time, and different labs follow different versions of this hierarchy). Haplogroup R1b1b2 is a subset (subclade) of haplogroup R1b1b, which in turn is a subclade of haplogroup R1b1... The short names describe the SNP mutation that defines the haplogroup.

Further information on the difference between STRs and SNPs.


Existing 23andMe customers can participate in this project by sharing their paternal haplogroup information (marked in red in the image below).

Also, if you see any mention of a terminal SNP (e.g., R1a-L448 or R1b-M222) please mention this as well.

(based on this image at


It may also be possible to analyse the raw 23andMe data in order to determine a more precise haplogroup. This may be necessary if 23andMe has assigned you to a common haplogroup. For instance, R1b1b2 (in the image above) is very, very common in Western Europe, and new subdivisions for this group are being discovered all the time. The mutation for R1b1b2 took place several thousand years ago, so it probably isn't genealogically significant if two Morleys are classified as R1b1b2. If, upon further analysis, both Morleys are found to be something more precise -- say R1b1a2a1a1a3b2b1a1b2a -- then a link between the two Morley families becomes more likely.

23andMe has a FAQ page on how to download your raw data. The Morley Y-DNA administrator can analyse the Y-chromosome part for you. You only need to submit your Y-chromosome data to the Morley project administrator.