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A Review of AncestryDNA – Ancestry.com’s New Autosomal DNA Test


In the past, I’ve reviewed new autosomal DNA testing options offered by 23andMe and Family Tree DNA:

Today, I’m reviewing the new autosomal DNA test from Ancestry.com called “AncestryDNA.” I’ve already written at length about AncestryDNA, so I won’t cover too many of the basics here.  I have an in-depth introduction to the product located at “Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA Product,” which you might want to check out before or after reading this review in order to gather more information.

AncestryDNA: An Introduction

The introduction page, which appears after clicking on “View Results” on the front page, consists of my Genetic Ethnicity Summary and the Member DNA Matches (which is further broken into close cousins and distant cousins, as discussed in detail below).  Please note that for purposes of this review I’ve removed the identifying information for my genetic matches.

Genetic Ethnicity Summary:

My genetic ethnicity results, which suggest 90% European and 10% Uncertain, are very interesting.  In a recent webinar with the AncestryDNA team, they reported that the genetic ethnicity analysis is still very early in the beta phase, and will continue to be updated and refined as new reference populations are added.  Indeed, I’m predicting that over time as new information is added and the algorithm is refined, some or all of my10% Uncertain will be categorized (perhaps to reflect my maternal Asian and African contributions, which I’ve written about before), and that some of of my 90% European may very well change.

Under a heading “About Your Ethnicity” is a pop-up file with more information about Ancestry.com’s ethnicity estimation algorithm.  In that file, under “Is It Accurate,” for example, Ancestry.com provides the following:

When determining your genetic ethnicity, we hold our process and results to an extremely high standard of accuracy.  Our lab’s analysis uses some of the most advanced equipment and techniques to measure approximately 700,000 points in your genome (with at least a 98% rate of accuracy).  We compare that to one of the most comprehensive and unique collections of genetic signatures from around the world.  And as this collection improves over time, it can only get better.

I’m not sure whether the AncestryDNA tests these 700,000 SNPs, or whether it tests more SNPs but is currently using a subset of 700,000 for its analysis.  I’ll try to find this information.

I thought it might be interesting to compare my genetic ethnicity results from the three companies (Ancestry.com, 23andMe, and FTDNA):

Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA:

  • 78% Scandinavian
  • 12% Central European
  • 10% Uncertain

23andMe’s Ancestry Painting:

  • 98% European
  • 2% Asian
  • <1% African

Family Tree DNA’s Population Finder:

  • 68% European (Northeast European) – Finnish
  • 32% Middle East (Jewish) – Jewish

After reviewing the results one thing is certain: all three companies estimate a strong European contribution to my genome, particularly Scandinavian (ranging from 68% to 78%).  It’s ironic, however, that I have yet to identify a single Northern European ancestor!  I certainly won’t be surprised when one pops up someday.

Clicking on “See Full Results” takes me to a more detailed analysis of my ethnicity results, but not before I click through the following pop-up:

Please keep in mind…Our prediction of your genetic ethnicity is not yet finalized. As we gather more DNA samples and continue our research we expect your ethnicity results to become more accurate and perhaps more detailed.

As I stated above, the ethnicity results are likely to change over time, so be forewarned.

The Full Results page – reproduced below – includes historical and anthropological information about each of the identified regions from your ethnicity profile (Scandinavian and Central European, for me).  It also shows a list of genetic matches who share the relevant region (it’s a long list along the right lower side of the page, but it’s not shown below for privacy reasons).  You can also zoom into the map where ancestors from a tree you’ve linked to your account are displayed.  For example, I have 8 listed in Ireland and 2 in Central Europe.

In summary, Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA test provides a genetic ethnicity/region calculation based on about 700,000 SNPs and a large collection of both public and proprietary reference databases.  The product can currently categorize DNA into at least 22 different ethnicities/regions, with more to come.  So be prepared for changes to your estimation as their algorithm and databases grow.

Member DNA Matches

Also on the introductory page is a listing of genetic matches.  These are individuals that, based on shared segments of DNA, you are predicted to share a common ancestor with.  An interesting aspect of the DNA matches list, however, is a sliding scale for the relationship confidence level, which ranges from 99% to 10%:

  • 99% Confidence – Immediate Family
  • 99% Confidence – 1st Cousins
  • 99% Confidence – 2nd Cousins
  • 98% Confidence – 3rd Cousins
  • 96% Confidence – 4th Cousins
  • 50% Confidence – Distance Cousins
  • 20% Confidence – Distance Cousins
  • 10% Confidence – Distance Cousins

Accordingly, the introductory page can be customized to only display cousins of a certain confidence level.  If I reduce the confidence level to 96%, for example, I only have two matches (my two predicted fourth cousins shown in the picture above).

Clicking on the “What Does This Mean” link next to the  possible relationship range on the “Review Matches” page for each genetic cousin (see the figure below) causes the following information to be displayed, along with some nice inheritance charts:

Predicted Relationship Info: FOURTH COUSIN

It’s interesting to note that (at this degree of separation) we are accurately able to predict only about 85% of the possible relatives that are out there—in other words there is a 15% chance that our DNA analysis does NOT recognize an actual relative of yours. One way to be more certain that the DNA testing captures as many relatives as possible is to have multiple members of your immediate family tested.

It is also interesting to note that at this degree of separation we are sometimes wrong in our prediction of a real relationship. We’ve found that for this relationship about 15% of the time we predict a relationship that cannot be found in any family tree.

This provides some interesting insight into AncestryDNA’s matching algorithm and, accordingly, the algorithm’s results.  For example, it’s important to always keep in mind that there is a roughly 15% chance of incorrectly labeling an individual either as a match or as not being a match.

As the user slides the scale from 99% down to 10%, more results typically appear.  For example, I currently have two 4th cousins listed as matches, 9 matches with 50% confidence, 14 matches with 20% confidence, and 38 matches with 10% confidence.  I expect these numbers to increase considerably once more test results become available.  I don’t know how big the AncestryDNA database currently is, but I’m guessing that only a few 100 to a few 1000 people, at the very most, have undergone testing so far.

Comparing Family Trees

The true power of the AncestryDNA test lies in the ability to automatically compare your uploaded family tree with the uploaded family tree(s) of genetic matches.  For example, one of my predicted fourth cousin matches has a public tree with 408 people.  Clicking on “Review Match” takes me to the next page with more information (see the next screenshot) including each of the following:

  • A predicted relationship and predicted relationship range;
  • Our ethnicity comparison (a very cool and potentially very useful feature);
  • My genetic cousins’ entire tree out to 7 generations (and a link to see more);
  • A possible shared ancestor (a “shaky leaf” hint) if one is identified;
  • Surnames that we share in common; and
  • My genetic cousins’ surnames through 10 generations.

I especially like the Genetic Ethnicity Bar (I just made that up, but I guess it fits) comparison, which shows your ethnicity prediction next to your matches ethnicity prediction.  For example, my fourth cousin displayed in the image below is 93% British Isles and 7% Uncertain.  Since I have no reported British Isles genetic contribution, my Genetic Ethnicity Bar is gray:

On the other hand, if there is some matching ethnicity contribution, the Genetic Ethnicity Bar comparison will look like this:

This genetic match and I, predicted to be distant cousins, both have contributions from Central Europe and Scandinavia.  My match also has British Isles and Middle Eastern, which I am estimated not to have.

Also on the the “Review Match” page is a link to send a message to the match (very important for genealogists).  I also like the “Last signed in” information, which lets people know just how active a genetic match might be (and why they aren’t answering your email!).

Common Ancestor and Shared Surnames

As can be seen from the last two screenshots, the list of shared surnames (if there are any) is prominently displayed near the top of the page.  If there was an individual in common between our trees, he or she would also be displayed there.  Unfortunately, when I review the match with each of my possible genetic cousins, I typically have one or more shared surnames, but none have a single identified common ancestor.  I was hoping for such a match, but I’ll have to be a bit more patient.   While I currently have about 55 matches, only some of those have public trees, and even fewer have substantial family trees (larger trees increase the likelihood of identifying a possible shared ancestor, of course).

Conclusion

This post included just a few initial thoughts about my testing experience and results.  I may add more information, or create a new post, as I continue to review my results.  If you have any questions about the testing process or ancestry results that I didn’t address, please feel free to leave a comment.  I’m sure many other people have the same question, so don’t hesitate to ask.  I’ll also try to get the AncestryDNA team to answer any questions I can’t answer.

While there is currently no information about when AncestryDNA will be available, or pricing, I’m sure that this will be available soon.

I’m looking forward to your comments, ideas, and questions.

(Disclosure:  I received my AncestryDNA test without charge from Ancestry.com for review purposes and beta testing.  Regardless, I have attempted to review this product as honestly and as objectively as possible in order to provide valuable information about AncestryDNA to my readers.)

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

166 Comments

  1. Alas, I wish I had read this blog before ordering the Ancestry.com DNA test, too. After 30 years of genealogical research, and lots of connections I hoped for at least some definitive information to come from the test results. The test is inconclusive, vague, and produced emails from people who had no idea how they might be connected to me, or me to them. All in all, this is a self-serving process that we pay for, so that Ancestry can create a database. I await a really useful test which will provide clear connections and accurate, detailed information. A scam.

    • I just received my results from the Ancestry.com DNA test., What a disappointment ! The results told me nothing I didn’t already know. All I received was a computer generated pie chart. I called the 800# asking if I was going to get a more detailed written report thru the mail. They said “no”. If I wanted to find out more I should sign up for the 1 month free trial . I wasn’t going to do that because I would have to give them my credit card info & they would automatically start charging per month if I didn’t immediately cancel it. The possible relatives they gave me were in the 5-8 cousin range & said the actual relationship was in the very “low” range, What a waste of $100.00 !!

      • So….am I correct in thinking that the results from this test are only as good as the current number of others who have done the test within Ancestry DNA? In other words, your DNA is only matched to the others who have submitted tests to AncestryDNA?

        • Darlene – that’s correct, and true of any of the testing companies. You can, however, expand your matches by testing at multiple companies, or uploading your raw data to a cross-platform comparison site like GEDMatch.

      • This test is not easy to do for the user. This is the second test set and I have not been able to complete the requirements of getting enough saliva. for a good test result. I recommend finding a test that uses a cheek swab or other easily method, other than saliva. BTW, ancestry DNA does not have a cheek swab method as an option.

  2. Stay away from FAMILY TREE DNA
    I ordered an online special offer for a 67ydna test from Family Tree DNA and got ripped off. I paid $205.00 including postage for the test which was actually, what they call, Family Finder test. I did not receive the results for the test I ordered but received a cheaper test instead.
    I called their office but they did not want to even follow through with my complaint. I wasn’t after a refund, just the results for what I paid for.
    My advice: stay away from this company – they have no integrity!!

  3. My experience with Ancestry DNA was mixed. I was disappointed with the vagueness of the results. The amount of Scandinavian surprised me at first, but I remembered that they spread their DNA over most of Europe.

    I found three cousin matches on my dad’s side. I also found one on my mom’s. The one on my mom’s side had no common ancestors listed, but one of the common surnames listed individuals from the same town as one of my ancestors.

    Ancestry now lets you import the raw data from your file. This data can be imported to other databases that give medical information, etc. I’d use this with caution, however.

    I’m pretty sure Ancestry uses computers to generate their results since they come from thousands of SNP’s (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms), which are single base pairs. Certain base pairs are more common in certain ethnic groups, but it is not an exact science. It is, however, improving all the time, especially for base pairs with medical implications. Check out SNPedia.com for more information.

    • You are so right! I am of Native American heritage and have documents to prove it and they did not even mention it in their results but Ancestry .com did! This is a rip off and please, don’t ask for a refund! They will NOT respond and I know others who had the same problem with this company so SAVE YOUR MONEY AND STAY AWAY FROM ALL OF THEM!!!!

      • Ancstry.Com reports many people, especially Europeans as having Native American ancestry. The only people who claim these test are rip offs, are the ones who have problems regarding their ancestry. People with Native American anecstry (a good amount anyway), it shows up. test with 23andMe, the most accuate. If you don’t show there…..Good luck with that.

  4. A bit of good news.

    Ancestry.com has made DNA raw data available. I downloaded it today- here’s how it’s done: from your ancestry.com DNA Home Page; click on Manage Test Settings, then click on Get Started in the box marked Download Your Raw DNA data. Follow the instructions from there.

    I’m glad ancestry.com finally did this. It restores a bit of faith in their integrity as a data gathering/sharing business. Glad they decided to share!

    If I had my druthers now I’m not sure if I’d get the test with ancestry.com, but I got it for $10, the cost of shipping, back when it was in the early beta testing, so it was no skin off my nose…but I was irked when they didn’t share any of the raw data. So, a year later is better than not at all, but still rather slow. Hopefully this is a sign they are learning from their mistakes. As for customer service…meh. I’m glad I never had anything urgent I needed from them.

    Best of luck all!

  5. I’m an adoptee searching not for relatives but for ethnicity. I think I would have still done the test anyway (seems like I paid more than anybody else and feeling kind of stupid for it), but I also wish I had seen all this before diving in. I’m willing to more or less accept the results I got, but knowing that I could have 0% of one parent’s ethnicity, or even only have 100% of one *part* of one parent’s ethnicity is so useless to me when I’m trying to find out who I am/what I’ve come from, and the “distant relations” are just teasers as far as I’m concerned (no closer relations have been found, but again, I’m not looking for relatives). I guess it’s not possible but I’d really like a test that could do just like the last 500 years or so – which seems to be all the people who even have 16 generations of family charted care about, too. I know, ethnicity doesn’t work that way. Still, I do feel like I might as well have rolled the dice and chosen an ethnicity or combination of ethnicities, since immediate family members have so little to do with it… I don’t see why it can’t show all the latent ethnicities, too? Does it work *that* way – if we don’t take on the ethnicity of a parent, aren’t we at lest a carrier?) The way it works now, this test only leads to more questions, no answers. :(

    • Like Angel I am also an adoptee, although I DO want information on relatives, which is why I’m interested in DNA testing. I have located my birth mother and connected with her family, however I don’t know for sure who my birth father is and am hoping that a DNA test could help confirm the family I believe is his. Ethnic and genetic family history is every bit as important as family medical history, none of which adoptees from my generation were given. My hope is that as DNA and genetic testing become more commonplace and widespread the sealed records (for NINETY-NINE YEARS) from pre-1980s adoptions will become obsolete and irrelevant and the records will be unsealed to adoptees. After reading the review I’m sitting on the fence as to whether to have this test done now, and through Ancestry, or whether to wait a few more years until the testing is more complete.

      • just curious what company you used that assisted you in finding your birth family? My partner is adopted and we have been researching how to get this info for her.

    • My father has a similar situation as yourself. We know he was adopted (or rather given away) and has no information on his birthparents. He wants to know his ethnicity and possible health issues. I was wondering if you have found anything that you found helpful in the year since you did the Ancestry DNA testing?

    • My heart went out to you and your desire to learn your ethnicity. I never knew my grandparents and never saw their death certificates,yet after my parents died I found them. I did get some insight just from their last names. What I’m getting at is although u don’t care to actually meet your parents/relatives knowing their names and their parents names could give you some valuable info for you to begin your quest. you don’t have to contact them, just use the info you .. For instance one of their last names could be obviously Greek or Italian…that’s a place to start. good luck.

  6. To all the people wondering why you don’t match what you thought you should match, perhaps somewhere along the line your mom, grandma, etc. cheated on their spouses, that would throw your research off a lot. Perhaps someone was adopted, perhaps a daughter had a bastard child that was raised by the grandparents as their own (this happened in my family).

    Bastards & infidelity will really throw off your testing!

  7. I concur with James. Nobody likes to be the bastard child, consider themselves the bastard child, or even mention the bastard child. My own mother is a bastard child, but nobody in the family likes mention this, my mother included. You really do see what you WANT to see when you think you look like someone else, but it could be misgivings. It’s upsetting that your senses deceive you and more upsetting that your truth has been a deception. For people “totally” certain of their ancestry, why even bother with these tests? Even if your mother is from Germany, her mother could have been from Denmark, and her mother from Sweden. Just look at the similarities in language and it reflects the gene flow.

    It apparently hasn’t been stressed enough that these maps are not complete. When more data arrives, it will possibly change. Read, people!

  8. I was certain that Ancestry had mixed up my sample with another. Then 4 months after receiving my “incorrect” DNA results from Ancestry.com, my 86 year old mother revealed that my biological father was in fact a long time family friend and not the father who raised me. My own mother confirmed the DNA test results. This formerly 100% British Isle boy is now 50% Italian! Go figure!

  9. I too was surprised by my AncestryDNA results, but rather than being upset, it just spurred me on to find connections I might have missed. I was expecting central European, given that my maiden name is Dutch and my mothers side is almost all Swiss-German. It was sort of exciting then, to get my results: 71% British Isles and 29% Scandinavian. After some reading I figured the Scandinavian must come to me through the British Isle mix, which to me, only makes that component more real. After reading about how dna can be, how the obvious connection may not be what makes up your unique set – it galvanized me. I knew there were some potential English/Irish connections on my father’s side going back, even if they were 4 or 5 generations back – so probably that’s where the British Isles component of that side comes from. But how could I have gotten anything British from my mother’s side, I wondered? I began filling in my mother’s side of the tree, and realized/remembered that my grandfather’s mother had died when he was a child, and therefore had more or less dropped out of my mind. Turns out her last name is Irish and I began pursuing that line, to find out her grandfather in the 1910 census came from Ireland! So for me, this turned out to be pretty exciting and made me dig in a way I woudn’t have otherwise. I’m also fascinated by how my particular genome was fashioned in an unexpected way, yet physically, makes total sense to me now. So while yes, I would love to have a chromosome browser in Ancestry so I could see what my haplogroups are for me, the neophyte at this, I’m pretty happy.

    And no, as far as I can see, the few matches don’t overlap my tree, but that’s OK with me for now. I was more interested in where my particular DNA originates in the great family tree.

  10. Disclaimer: No expert – interesting reading these threads. Currently with Ancestry.com – received my DNA results – nothing alarming or earth shattering on the grand scheme of ancestral migrations. Here is how I view it – where do my root ancestors come from — if by creation or evolution – we believe in the power of the original two …. and migration as a whole, I am not sure why anyone is so disappointed in their results. It is basic regions and well let’s face it – most American roots are very European. It reminds me of saying well I am a New Yorker as in city, then to reference the state, then to reference the region, then to reference the country ….. but really where does the migration start – the roots – not just back to where I can trace it – but where my blood line goes. I am awaiting results on my mom, cousin, aunt and a possible first cousin — if my grandpa is actually his grandpa, too (via an illicit affair and possible children). Another thing to note is that there were A LOT of children not born to the parents listed in the records – back in the days – older siblings or parents may have taken on the care of a young girl’s illegitimate child …. and many a man traveled for work all over the US – while young bride’s were “serviced” by others … but due to stigma or needing an actual “fault” – people didn’t divorce and records of births were not biologically accurate – simply stated as such. So I guess I take it all with a grain … and I enjoy collecting the information and hope that the information I provide of my living family members will be appreciated by future generations. I am including “illegitimate” children as well as “partners” …. I hope my collection is worthwhile and truly factual.

  11. When looking for ancestry.com’s predicted cousin relationships, consider that multiple common connections further back can present themselves as something closer. For instance, if they suggest a connection in the 5th to 8th cousin range, you may be 10th cousins with one connection and 11th cousins in another. This phenomena may be more likely, mathematically, with the theoretical doubling of your ancestors each generation in populations that get smaller the further back you go. It may take a little more effort to find these relationships. Ancestry.com will not find them automatically even if the individuals are already listed in both trees because they only look at 10 generations of data. Also, sometimes it is helpful to scan through the entire list of names in another tree to find your common surnames, or to identify areas of common interest that could provide clues as to where you are related.

  12. To add to Steve #111 comments, there is a trend here that suggests a strong misunderstanding of how variable genetic transmission can be and an even stronger element of the concept of “self selection”, a term experimental scientists use to explain that similar people often get tossed together in a particular study because they already have interest in participating and may very well possess whatever the researcher is testing for. Example: testing a population of women for the risk of breast cancer. If it’s a poorly (and sometimes not so poorly) designed study, and the participants are not screened adequately to see if they are volunteering because they already have breast cancer concerns due to a family history of the illness, the results of the study will be extremely misleading. As far as this blog goes, one reading many of the comments would throw an AncestryDNA test result in the toilet. As far as making statements like “I know I’m at least 25% (insert expected ethnicity) because of my parents and grandparents countries of origin”, are a good example of what I’m saying. People who believe you get 50% of your biological father’s DNA and 50% of your mother’s need to do additional reading on the subject before they poo-poo results of any DNA test’s prediction of ethnicity.

    • You do get half of your dna from each parent. But you do not get a quarter of your dna from each grandparent, or an eighth from each great grandparent. Theoretically, the half of your mother’s dna that you inherited could have been the half she inherited from HER mother, effectively cutting Grandpa completely out of your genome.

      • Kathleen – in almost every case, it is very close to 25%. But you are correct that there can be strange events. Razib Khan has calculated – using statistics alone rather than any experimental or observational data – that there is statistically a 1 in 4 million chance that you could “cut Grandpa completely out of your genome” (although, of course, your parent would have done that, not you). See http://goo.gl/aBaSoo

  13. I think many people are upset becuase that they must now identify with something other than what they thought they were! The testing goes back a thousand years or so, so unless you have researched your genetic tree that far then you don’t know what you are as migration has been incredible during the years. My grandfather is from England as as far as we can trace back on paper he is English but we can’t trace far enough. The Vikings invaded England therefore my mum came up as half Scandanavian. Be open to learning that you might be something other than what you thought! :-) Happy researching!

  14. I too am severely disappointed! They cost on the shipping is outrageous to return.
    The motor is VERY wimpy, and you start to smell the motor burning
    and overheating within seconds. Everything I tried to do I had to take the food
    out of the bowl and mix by hand. It certainly does not fix enough food for a
    whole family. It claims to be able to do a pound
    of meat, but I couldn’t even get it to mix that. I made the mistake of ordering 2 so I am basicly out now the shipping cost of about $120.00. DO NOT PURCHASE THIS MACHINE!!! To clean it is a massive undertaking with machine parts taking up every inch of your counter space. It was also very time consuming add food to the Mixing Bowl. The clamps that lock the bowl in place are a pain and very flimsy to say the least. The hole on top is like trying to shovel food into a milk bottle opening, it has a very TINY opening of about 2. The shredder does work quickly but I had difficulties not having it shoot all over the kitchen. The clean up is just massive. Once Again DO NOT BOTHER purchasing this machine….You will regret it!

  15. Jeez, holy cow, wish I would have read these comments before I bought this DNA test kit for big bucks, which I will mail off tomorrow. After reading these comments I thought the results would be more defined like GERMAN 75%, IRISH 25%, but I bet will come back as Central European and British Isles. Very disappointing. Oh well live and I guess I didn’t learn. Oh yea maybe I’ll tell the results if I’m correct.

  16. Back again…
    It is a scary thing for many to find that they are MORE or LESS than what Mommy or Grandma told them. It is also more scary to read so many of the comments above that illustrate the failure of the American educational system, or any other for that matter, to teach the sciences, specifically biology, to its students. All I can say is that with a solid educational background in human genetics (and/or simply paying attention in high school biology) consumers should at the very least, realize what you are getting when you take an autosomal DNA test. I am the group administrator of a ten person family DNA study and although I think there are some problems with Ancestry’s interpretation of YDNA tests, the AncestryDNA (autosomal) tests are helpful if you test an adequate number of family members and you have enough of an understanding of how variable the results across persons tested and the incredible variability of who gets what when a conception occurs. Read a little people. This isn’t a magic solution and it still requires research and follow up on everyone’s part. Yeah, Grandma said we were part Native American but really…NOT. Grandma wanted to think that. Lookup “genetic recombination”. Learn a little. Don’t be a part of the MacDonald’s mentality when it comes to genetic testing. Jeeze!

  17. I’m an adoptee searching for for relatives and for ethnicity. My mother was also adopted so that leaves a lot of uncertainty. Any information I would receive would be helpful and was surprised with my results. My newly found sister has taken the test and we showed up in each other’s results as 99% and we are waiting for our mothers results to come in. So this dose work IF the other people you are searching for uses the same DNA testing company. I was disappointed that it doesn’t match up with other testing sources; our matches may be out there somewhere looking as well. I am very disappointed with the search engine. I can’t seem to find anyone I look for even myself, my daughter or any of my Adopted family whose complete information I do have. So how will I find anyone else I’m looking for?

  18. Having gotten my results from ancestry.comDNA, I am 57% West African, 41% British Isles and 2% uncertain. Even though I am a Black American, I have gotten 7 confirmed matches. All 7 are white and people with whom I share British Isles ancestry .5 matches were in my mothers family and 2 in my fathers family. I am now able to document a great great great grandfather, via DNA, whom until now I could definitively prove. Ancestry.comDNA was exceptionally accurate in my ethnicity, as I figured it out on paper years ago. The 2% uncertain was most likely Native American, 17th century Dutch and Flemish and perhaps other groups of ancestry I am not aware of. These were probably so small in quantity that they just did not register in my DNA. HATS OFF TO ANCESTRY.COMDNA. It is worth the $100.00.

    • I came up 56% West African and a shocking 28% Scandinavian. I guess that explains all the blonde hair dye and wigs on my mother’s side of the family?
      FTDNA linked me to 3 Akan groups….the Mina, Nzima and the Fante which is in line with the old family story of an ancestor from the Gold Coast. They also found DNA from the Fang of Gabon….and Saudi Arabia and Brazil (!).

  19. I have had good results with my test. My mother and my father’s sister have also done their tests. My mother shows as a parent child relationship and my aunt shows as a first cousin relationship. They both have different percentages of ethnicity than I do, but that is not so critical. I have numerous hints on both my father’s line and my mother’s. I match up with many as 3rd and 4th cousins. I have linked to most back beyond 4th great grandparents. The confidence level decreases this far back and links are dependent on others who have gone back this many generations and who have also done their DNA. I have no doubt that if I had close cousins or siblings submit their DNA it would show the close relationship which it should.

  20. I got the ancestry.com results of my autosomal DNA & my feelings are mixed, however some remarks here startle me. In no way with my 73% African, 10% British Isles,6% Scandinavian results am I disappointed, 11% uncertain is puzzling. I’d like ancestry to give a “hint” at an 80% confidence on the “uncertain” it’s like 10 ancestors are before me.7 are African, 2 are upper European & 1 is a ghost. The help desk was kind & said that they will fill in the gap in time. What makes no sense are comments about how many generations back people claim to be “sure” of their ancestral genetics, especially those who slam Africa or Asia-get real, back more than 1 generation NOBODY is sure! Men & women have always been the same! The paper trail tells the “bedtime story” but the DNA tells the true story. Being “African American” we realize Europeans are in our DNA & it’s been lied and hidden for generations-I plan to encourage ancestry’s workers but know that just because your DNA doesn’t match your tree doesn’t make it not legitimate! If people accepted that we might ALL know our relatives!

    • You should also test with DNA Tribes. I, my brother and my Mom did it and we
      were intrigued with all the results….we are African-American and we had tested with AFRICAN ANCESTRY, which is good for the paternal Y-line and the maternal mitochondrial line. But to get a good spread of all your ethnography, DNA Tribes gives you the first 20 matches to ethnic groups, as found in your
      mother’s and father’s 46 chromosomes. Your African ancestry is a mixture of many groups, and you will see which ones are predominant in your autosomal
      profile. Your European may be greater or lesser, and you may also have some Asian and Native American ancestry. My family is African-American, and
      we were intrigued to find a large core of Middle Eastern and Mesopotamian
      DNA, which traces back to ancient populations of Egyptian and Sudanese
      Jews on my mother’s line; Portuguese, North African and West African groups on my Dad’s line. Don’t forget that this autosomal test picks up both ancient and modern DNA lines of various ethnicities running in your family lines on both sides.

  21. Good web site you have here.. It’s difficult to find quality
    writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate people like you!
    Take care!!

  22. I wasn’t sure about whether I should try this, as I don’t know anything about my father and my mother told me I was mixed with so much, that I don’t really have ANY idea what my ethnicity is nor any ancestors. I saw a commercial for the DNA testing, and of course since I am a college student, spending $100 on something like this gives me a feeling of researching this before finally biting the bullet. After reading your analysis of the test and how as more and more information becomes available to Ancestry.com, I feel pretty confident about giving this a try! I’m hoping that I can learn a lot more about my fathers’ side of the family, as I never met him and don’t know enough information to locate him or his family. Thank you so much for the in depth analysis! I look forwards to receiving my results soon!

    • If you want the ethnography of your family, a better test would be the one offered by DNATribes. You get the top 20 ethnic matches of your autosomal DNA, which combines your mother’s and your father’s chromosomes. This will give you an idea of the streams of DNA of your ancient and modern ancestors.
      DNATribes does not bother with “admixture percentages”–it is focused primarily on the multiple lines of ancestry you carry in your genes. You will probably be surprised at all you find, and you must remember that all humans carry multiple lines of EVERYTHING, dating back over 10,000 years or more.

    • Hey Bonnie! As I read your comment, I almost felt like I wrote it myself. I am in the exact same situation, and am also a college student who is reluctant to spend the money. Have you gotten your results yet? Was it worth the money? I hope you found out some good stuff!

  23. Hey, Blaine. Between this and 23andme which would you recommend if one is on a budget? I did the Ancestry.com one and I got a 7% Polynesian result, even though I think this happened since Asians immigrated to Hawaii. Did you know that Ancestry reformed their system? My results were a solid blue pie chart at first, then they reformed their whole system and I got 91% Asian, 7% Polynesian, and a negligible 2% for Central Asia.

  24. I tested with dnatribes in 2010 and so did my wife.mY family is overwhelming Borderes from the Scots english Border Reivers” most of them were sent toi Ulster and I showed as large segment from there. The Surprise was the heavy Scandinavian mostly in Sweden.Except for my father who has a german last anme but only ine eight of his surnames are German the rest Border Scots,Anglo Irish.WE know hte last name was changed maybe three four types.I know of no Scandinavian ancestors. However, in looking at websites listing Haplogroups I found numerous close genetic matches to my Y haplo in Gotland Sweden.Go figure? So know I am testing with Ancestry dna and then I will ttrnsfer data to 23 and me. mY wiofe came out Arabic about 85 percent and Scots.
    I have got tall four grandparents or their brother’s Y haplo,and three RIB one G2 the Mito three standard Euro types T1,K,U etc except one Native American. (Her great grandma was a member of Crow Nation and on the tribal rolls.No sign of that on dnatribes but 10 percent Native American on Gene Tree.
    All her ancestors are 19th century immigrants from the UK except great grandma.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised at all that you have Scandinavian roots given that you have Scots ancestry. My known ancestors are all from the U.K. but those Vikings came to visit a lot! If DNA tests aren’t any more selective than Northern European or British Isles, I probably won’t bother. But interesting nonetheless!

  25. I bought two dna tests from ancestry…for me and my daughter. Mine said that I was 3 percent Iberian Peninsula…my daughter had zero percent Iberian peninsula…how can this be? Please help me to understand!

    • Parents together give their children different chromosomes (and different amounts of their genetic ancestry, sometimes none) so though your daughter didn’t get your Iberian DNA, another of your children might have gotten it. I did not receive any of my father’s Western European or East Asian ancestry. I saw a comparison on one site where two parents of mixed heritage–one European/African and the other European/Native American had three kids: the first two had all the groups but the last had no Native American DNA.

  26. Kelli – keep in mind that your daughter only inherits 50% of your DNA. So if the 3% Iberian is a real segment, then it appears that the segment is part of the 50% of your DNA that your daughter did not inherit.

  27. i can not access my dna,how do i get access? this is for ancestry.com.

  28. I received my ancestry.com dna results within the last the days. At first I was surprised when it said my ethnicity was 82% Great Britain, 7% Ireland, and less than 1% West Europe. Based on my family history, I would have guessed a dominate germanic component. After readings the Ancestry.com white paper, I learned that they do not have a german reference panel as of the time of this writing. However, many members of the Great Britain reference panel, and their grandparents, were born in parts of Western Europe including what is now Germany. So I wonder, why would Ancdestry.com have no german reference panel?

  29. Dr. Bettinger,
    My father was adopted and has since passed away. Because he was adopted, we know nothing about his family. I recently received my dna results with ancestry.com and had one first cousin come up. We have my mother’s family tree dating to the 1600′s and and the “cousin” and his relatives are not related to me on my mother’s side. Since it lists first cousin, could he actually be my father’s half brother (my uncle) and not a cousin, per se?

    • Yes, he could be. I never knew my grandfather, my mother’s father. My grandmother was a teenager when she had my mother and her father was never part of her life. Ancestry.com connected me to a second cousin and we were able to confirm that we are indeed related through my mother’s father and are second cousins as Ancestry.com suggested.

  30. HI good afternoon 23 and me ancestry I took a dna testing from genebase as wall as ancestry.com. my haplogroup from genebase is e1b1a7a and my dna for ancestry dna is 87 percent African 11 percent European 1 percent Asia Central Asian and 1 Percent Native American Indian. Genebase is kind of hard to figure out and ancestry my highest percentage in Africa is Ivory coast and Ghana. I do believe we have the same dna as the Sephardim e1b1a-e1b1a7a even though my surname is Stancil its translated Estanislao estanislau Stanislaus Stansell Stanca Stenzel Stencel. Please can you give me an answer.

  31. AncestryDNA

    First let me start by saying I had my 82 year old Mother take the test along with me. Additionally, several of my cousins also took the test. There are a couple of generations, and several ancestors between all of us.

    I am happy to say we all came back as matches, and at different levels. None of us share the same surname, and we are all from different parts of the Country. Some of us have family trees, some of us do not…but, we all matched.

    I find it somewhat frustrating as well as others, but it’s learning how to read the info that is relieving some of that confusion.

    One of my main concerns (stupid on my part) was believing I could possibly be related to all those people…even distantly. I am beginning to find the entire process exciting as I explore.

    Thumbs up from me.

  32. Does anyone know volume of DNA references ancestry.com is basing their results on? 23andme is trying to reach some magic 1Million number so that the results they give their customers reaches this new reporting potential with DNA results. What’s that all about?

  33. After doing the DNA test through Ancestry.com myself, I also had my father and my 90 year old great aunt do it. We were looking specifically for the Native American to show up since we know that it is there, however, I am personally 6 generations removed from the my full blooded Native American ancestor. Nothing showed up in my results but it confirmed a great deal of other ethnicity amounts which was interesting. My father and my great aunt (my father’s paternal side) showed very small amounts of South and Central Asian which was an area that was heavily occupied at one time by the Mongolian peoples. The Mongols are the ancestors of the majority of the Native American tribes, having crossed the land bridge into the northern part of the North American continent and then migrating southward over time. So perhaps this is what we were looking for, however, we would like greater confirmation of that. The happy ending story of all this testing was that another member of Ancestry did the DNA test and she was able to use that information to locate a second cousin of mine in my family tree – her half-brother that she had not seen since her infancy – over 60 years ago. It has served to connect people that had been separated by years of divorces and remarriages of their father, and as such, is allowing them to talk and bring closure to a lot of unanswered questions and heartaches. I think it is worth the cost of the test.

  34. I just got my results back from DNA Spectrum and from looking at all the comments here, I am glad I went with them. I got so many detailed results. I have my DNA tested with 23&Me and only got basic percentages, that didn’t mean anything to me so I decided to try DNA Spectrum and boy was I surprised. Now I have the exact locations where I have a match not just percentages.

  35. Many years ago I acquired this book, and was fascinated by its maps. The first map in the book is from 362 A.D. and the last is 1478, the “Medieval Era.” Between those dates, people migrated, boundaries changed, trade routes developed, and religious allegiances bowed to the influence of missionaries and conquerors.
    Imagining that people stayed in one place and didn’t mix much is futile. For example, on the A.D.362 map, the Visigoths are along the Danube River. By 626, that area is labeled the “Avar Khanate”, and what is now Spain and Portugal is the “Visigothic Kingdom.” The Avars were first mentioned by Pliny the Elder in the 1st Century. They were nomadic people from the steppes of central Asia.
    Imagining that history sits still enough to say a person’s ancestry is “Scandinavian” or “Irish” or whatever, is a little naive.
    I remember seeing a PBS documentary where a mixed group of students compared DNA, and the closest match found was between two people of strikingly different skin color, with historical ancestry at nearly opposite poles of the earth – Scandinavia and one of the independent nations withing the borders of South Africa.
    Me – records show ancestors from Ireland, Britain, with a little sprinkle of maybe German. Then, when I found some British relatives, I find out they are probably descended from of group of Viking invaders. And, the Vikings once lived in central Asia, or at least some of the people that morphed into what is now “Scandinavian” did.
    I’ll admit to being human. I’m pretty sure that is right.

  36. Thank you Blane for this very useful site. I really need advice – am hoping you or your readers can help me and my family! My mother was adopted, her mother is deceased and so is the man we suspect was her father. This man was married and had 3 children, all dead now. One of his daughters from his marriage ( who would be my mothers possible half sister ) has 2 children living. They would be willing to take a DNA test. I am trying to research this as much as possible because we tried avuncular DNA testing some years back and this was negative, but also inconclusive given the limitations of such a test. Can autosomal testing help us? We just want to know if we are related.
    Many thanks
    Cora, Ireland

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