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Problems with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction?

I’ve received a number of emails and comments (see, e.g., here) complaining about Ancestry.com’s new test, AncestryDNA.  Specifically, several test-takers believe that the Genetic Ethnicity Prediction provided by Ancestry.com does not reflect the numbers that they expected based on their own research.

For example:

“I just got my DNA test results back from Ancestry.com and I am concerned. I was born in England and I have gone back many generations and have found that all my ancestors as far back as the 1600′s in most cases are English.  According to the results I have no British Isles DNA. It states that I have 60% Central Europe, 30% Scandinavian and 7% Southern Europe. I also have 3% unknown. How can this be?”

“Just received my results: 21% Southern European and 79% Central European which doesn’t follow years of work on my family history.”

Do these comments reflect errors in AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction, or are there other factors at play?

Caveats

Although I am not privy to the ‘behind-the-scenes’ at Ancestry.com, I don’t believe that there are serious issues with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction.  Ancestry.com’s DNA arm has a solid scientific team and a large and valuable reference database.

Indeed, Ancestry.com is well aware of the limitations and challenges that their Genetic Ethnicity Prediction brings:

We use cutting-edge science as a base for our predictions, but that comes with its own inherent challenges. It’s an emerging field with exciting new discoveries and developments constantly changing the landscape. Right now, your genetic ethnicity may not look quite right, with some ethnicities under or over-represented. As scientists gain a deeper understanding of the data, our prediction models will evolve to provide you with more accurate and relevant information about your family history.

It’s important to understand that biogeographical estimates, which are still relatively new, are notoriously difficult and complicated.  Ten different researchers analyzing the same genome can come up with ten different estimates based on a number of different factors, including their algorithm, the reference populations used for comparison, and many others.

Here are just a few factors that can influence a biogeographical estimate, and any one or more of these may be the reason that your Genetic Ethnicity Prediction does not match estimates you make based on your paper trail.

  • Different Reference Populations and Algorithms

As I suggested above, different companies use different reference populations and algorithms to create a biogeographical estimate, which can result in varying estimates.

For example, in my previous review of AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction, I compared my genetic ethnicity results from three companies (Ancestry.com, 23andMe, and FTDNA), and found that their results varied considerably.  I’m not surprised by this, but I do expect that over time – as the industry arrives at more standard reference populations and algorithms (which the cheap whole-genome sequencing revolution will enable) – that estimates from different companies will align much more closely.  Be patient and enjoy being a pioneer.

  • You Have TWO Family Trees!

Remember that “Everyone Has Two Family Trees – A Genealogical Tree and a Genetic Tree.” Your Genealogical Tree is the tree containing ALL of your ancestors.  However, only a tiny subset of these individuals actually (randomly) contributed DNA to the genome that you walk around with today.  These ancestors are the only individuals in your Genetic Tree.  It has been estimated, for example, that at 10 generations, only about 10-12% of ancestors in your Genealogical Tree are actually in your Genetic Tree!

Accordingly, even if a decent percentage of your ancestors at 10 generations originated in the British Isles, there is possibility that your DNA – and thus your Genetic Ethnicity Prediction – could include very little or absolutely no British Isles ancestry, simply because of the rules of genetics.

Ancestry.com tries to explain this as well (I’m biased, but I think my “Everyone Has Two Trees” explanation is a little clearer; I’ve had great luck explaining this to newbies):

So if you look at your family tree, it may indicate a pedigree-based ethnicity of 30% English, 20% Scandinavian, and 50% Italian (based on birth locations of your great-great-great grandparents). While this is one valid way to look at ethnicity (and in fact has been the only way until recently), DNA analysis can reveal the actual percentage of your DNA that is reflected by these ethnic groups. So your genetic-based ethnicity might reveal you are 40% British Isles, 15% Scandinavian, and 45% Southern European. Both measures are accurate and informative—but they are measuring different things.

  • Misleading Labels

Another issue with any biogeographical estimate is the labels used to describe a population.  For example, what does “Scandinavian” or “Central European” really mean?  Does “Scandinavian” mean that great-grandpa must have been a Swede, or does it mean something else?

Ancestry.com defines the “Scandinavian” with the modern day locations of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, but explains in their FAQ that it can mean much, much more:

Ethnic groups moved around. Because people move over time, (and when they do they take their DNA with them), a group may contribute DNA to other groups at different times. So ethnic groups can be defined by time and place—not just location. For example, if you have German or British ancestors in your family tree, it’s a possibility that your genetic ethnicity may be partly Scandinavian. The Viking invasions and conquests about a thousand years ago are likely responsible for occurrences of Scandinavian ethnicity throughout other regions. And there are similar examples for other ethnicities. With your results, we provide historical information describing migrations to and from the regions to give you a broader picture of the origins of your DNA.

Similarly, the “Central European” label is defined to include the enormous swath of land in Europe including the modern day locations of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.

I certainly don’t think of France as being “Central Europe,” which shows that a test-taker shouldn’t rely on the labels alone. Dig a little deeper.

  • Non-Paternal Events (NPEs)

I won’t dwell on non-paternal events, because I believe they have become too much of a scapegoat.  Non-paternal events, or NPEs, can be broadly defined as secret or unknown breaks in your Genealogical Tree (adoption, infidelity, etc.).  At some point every single Genealogical Tree has an NPE, although current estimates vary widely.  Consider the possibility of a break in your tree, but focus on the other factors presented here as the more likely explanation for your unexpected results.

Reviewing My Genetic Ethnicity Prediction

I have a fairly well-documented Genealogical Tree.  My documented ancestors were mostly from the British Isles (England and Ireland) and France, with far fewer ancestors from Germany, and Central America.  Years ago, based on my paper trail, I might have predicted 65% British Isles, 20% Irish, 15% French, and 5% German.

In light of the above, let’s review my AncestryDNA Genetic Ethnicity Prediction:

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

At first glance and without any of the knowledge above, these numbers seem way out of whack.  I don’t have a single document ancestor from Scandinavia or the area I think of as “Central Europe.”

However, when I learn that “Central Europe” includes France and Germany, a contribution of 12% “Central European” doesn’t seem far-fetched.  Further, considering that ancestry in the British Isles can include “Scandinavian” ancestors as a result of relatively recent Viking conquests (on a genetic timescale), perhaps the 78% Scandinavian isn’t so far-fetched either.

While I am still surprised that I don’t report any British Isles DNA, that could simply be because of difficulties in deciphering between Scandinavian and British Isles, or perhaps because of the random inheritance of DNA from those ancestors rather than others.

Lastly, where’s my confirmed Native American and African DNA?  Well, these percentages are rather small (­~ or <5% each) and I’m sure they’re contained within the “Uncertain” category.

In any event, I’m not discouraged by my results, and I fully expect my results to change over time.

Conclusions

Lastly, as Ancestry.com has warned, don’t forget that your results are subject to change with revisions of their algorithms and new discoveries.  And if Ancestry.com is dedicated to the best and latest results, your results almost certainly will and should change.

Your Turn

What are your percentages?  Do they match your expected percentages?  If you were unhappy with your AncestryDNA Genetic Ethnicity Prediction, does any of the above change your view?

Blaine Bettinger

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

106 Comments

  1. Hi there! Thank you for a great post! I had a free autosomal test with AncestryDNA. 49% British Isles, 49% Scandinavian, and 2% unknown. No surprise with British Isles, but Scandinavian was unexpected. Then I had an autosomal DNA test done for my father with Family Tree DNA and used the raw data to narrow down the Scandinavian to Norwegian and Swedish with Gedmatch. Since my father was 100% Orcadian with FTDNA, I think that the Scandinavian for my lineage is due to Norwegian influences. I blogged about my autosomal experience on my blog to share with others.
    As more people test with AncestryDNA, the more defined the population groups will be. When I called AncestryDNA, they did not have samples from all countries, such as Iceland. There are descriptions for the modern population groups the DNA is associated with, but it provides details that are very vague.
    Really, I am more concerned that AncestryDNA does not provide any raw data. Another concern is the ability to attach AncestryDNA results to erroneous family trees. I could not find a common ancestor with any of my matches.
    Hopefully AncestryDNA will be able to tweak the beta version in the future and provide raw data for genealogists to use in other admixture tools.

    Heather

  2. Heather,

    I actually just read (with great interest) your blog post about your testing experiences. Thank you for sharing those, and for stopping by here.

    I couldn’t agree more; raw data is essential. More and more genealogists are beginning to understand the value of their raw data, and they will want to be able to access it.

    I also agree that the labeling is an issue that needs to be reviewed and modified to help customers understand their results more clearly.

  3. CeCe,
    As you know I have had similar experiences. Here is a comparison of my paper tree and the results from all 3 companies and then one of the after market analysis. I will follow with a comment which I hope may help others.
    Best Rough guestimate from my paper tree

    1/2 English (Colonial)/Scottish (via Ireland)
    1/4 Swedish/Norwegian
    3/16 German/Austrian/Swiss/French
    1/16 Mixed Native American, Dutch,?

    Ancestry.com
    60% Scandinavian (shows Sweden, Norway, Denmark on their map)
    31% Central European (shows France, Germany, Belgium)
    9% Uncertain

    23andme
    99% European
    1% African

    FTDNA
    95.61% Western European (Shows British Isles)
    4.39% South Asia (Shows India)

    And here’s a comparison with World9 DODECAD
    0.27% Amerindian
    0.50% East_Asian (this would also suggest Native American)
    0.87% African
    72.79% Atlantic_Baltic
    0.75% Australasian (Oceania)
    0.01% Siberian (this would also suggest Native American)
    13.60% Caucasus_Gedrosia
    10.40% Southern (European/Mediterranean)
    0.83% South_Asian

    1)The DNA from my most recent old world ancestors are from Sweden & Norway immigrated in 1855 & 1870. Preceded by German and then Irish which is really Scottish which is probably really Viking. mtDNA is U5a1b2. I tend to think these segments that are inherited from my Scandinavian Great Grandparents are longer (more recent) and therefore have more “influence” on the results. ie.: Longer more clearly defined segments.

    The Germans immigrated in the early 1700′s as did the Scottish. The rest is very mixed up and DNA has revealed 2 well defined African segments and small bits of Native American. The Strong South Asian results may be reflective of Roma (Gypsy heritage) which is a family legend about my Swedish “travelers.” The Caucasus Gedrosia may reflect the route of the Swedish travelers AND/OR the German/Austrian Traveler(s) who may have been originally from the Cacasus Mountains area. This appears to be reflected in what I believe is my Father’s Y-DNA and a number of matches with those of recent Turkish ancestry.

    My English colonial —what remains in my DNA would be very small segments for the most part. It may also be mixed up with other populations including Native American and early Dutch, Portuguese and French. I have 5 Portuguese matches and they all match each other. My estimates are a common ancestor in the 1500-1600′s. Add in the 2 more recent “African Segments” and a plausible story line emerges and an explanation for the odd dissimilar results from all 3 companies.

    2) There is a huge difference between calculating our percentages across our whole genome vs. by Chromosome Analysis vs. by Segment analysis vs. by SNP analysis. If you average across all chromosomes you will skew the results in the majority direction. Here are a couple of examples. My Native American of which I have a confirmed DNA match—is not shown at any of the 3 companies and the World 9 calculator gives a .27% score. However if I look at World 9 by chromosome something different emerges. There is no Native American on 12 Chromosomes. The remaining Chromosomes have from .3 to 5.5% Amerindian. On Chromosome 18 there is:
    5.5% Amerindian
    1.4% Australasian
    3.2% Siberian
    Which added together is 9.1% potential Native American.
    Similarly I show .87% African on World 9 but on Chromosome 8:
    9.5% African
    .5% Amerindian
    2.3% Australasian
    3.4% Siberian

    So for me I need to look at my paper tree and try to account for things reflected in my DNA. I have come up with several scenarios but here is the most plausible. I have an ancestor in the 1700′s (one of my mystery women perhaps) who is of mixed ancestry. One parent was mixed African and the other was mixed but appeared more European. Both parents had Caribbean Slave ancestry a mix of various European ie: Portuguese, French, Dutch, English with African and Native American. This mystery woman was fair enough to pass—and did. She ends up in South Carolina and marries a former indentured servant from Scotland.

    No one knows or no one is passing down the story through the family—but when my DNA results arrived I was presented with a challenge—as in who DO you think you are? So with dogged determination first I had to prove to myself that the results were accurate and not noise or inaccuracies in the various calculators and two what is the story behind the genes. Each Algorithm has its shortcomings. The broader the view or the fewer components the more skewed the results.

    If you look at a patterned quilt from a long distance the dominant colors will blend to give you an impression of the color of the quilt. In the shade it looks blue in the sun it appears more purple. The closer you get the more the pattern emerges. The pieces are of different sizes and colors. The closer you get the more you see. Pretty soon you realize that each pattern piece is made up of different fabrics some almost a solid color and some a mix of lots of colors.

    Each of us is a quilt. Even a solid color quilt will show some variation up close. The grain and the lay of the fabrics will be different.

    As for matches. My experience at all 3 companies has been similar for previously unknown relatives:
    Mother’s paternal surname line Lundberg (Sweden) 3rd Cousin 1Removed @Ancestry
    Mother’s mother’s father’s line Sheldon (English-New England Colonial US) 5th cousin @FTDNA
    Father’s mother’s father’s line Sparks (English-Southern Colonial US) 4th cousin@Ancestry
    Father’s mother’s mother’s line Franklin (English-Southern Colonial US) 4th cousin 1R @FTDNA
    Father’s mother’s mother’s line Barnes (English-Southern Colonial US) 4th cousin 1R @23andme

    From my own recruiting
    Father’s mother’s line. Henager (German-Southern US) 2nd Cousin
    Mother’s line Lundberg / Sheldon (see above) 1st Cousin

    Missing Father’s father’s lines (German-Southern US AND English-New England Colonial US) And this is where I believe the African and native American is coming from!

    However anything past 4th cousin is pretty hard to find at any of the companies. With New England 9th cousins and further who knows if the person that matches in two trees is the same as that reflected in the DNA. I have found it overall most unhelpful at this level. Autosomal DNA is most helpful for close relationships—to about 5th cousin–for population or ancestry information (if you are willing to use the after market calculators and more detailed information like SNP Smart. And int eh case of 23andme very important medical Information can be gleaned.

    And I ECHO all others comments on Ancestry’s need to have RAW data downloadable and hopefully some more advanced matching tools. These shortcomings for me were overcome by the 2 solid matches that confirmed that my paper tree reflects my DNA.

    Now if I can just find some matches on my Dad’s side or on those African segments……

    Sorry for the ramble but I hope its helpful.
    Kelly

  4. So maybe Norman Conquest + Viking Conquest = British Isles paper Tree . . . . when you talk to British and European archaeologists you get an idea of potpourri all over the place. So maybe Roman Conquest would yield significant autosomal results that look “Italian”!

  5. Thanks, Blaine, for reading my blog post about my autosomal DNA tests. I also had one done for my hubs since his mtDNA full sequence was very surprisingly Jewish (he was raised strict Catholic). Cannot wait for his results!

  6. As I keep searching around for more information as to why/how my genetic percentage may have come up 13% Volga-Ural, I came across an article on sciencenordic.com about Vikings and Norway (having norge/danish paternal grandparents and NO scandanavian in my test results) that talks about those that came to Norge and how/why:

    Thralls and careerists

    Kjeldstadli points out that multiple groups immigrated to Norway in the Middle Ages.

    At the bottom of the social ladder were the Irish slaves, or thralls. They might not have had too much of an impact on the culture. Around 1250 the first refugees came from Russia.

    That ’1250′ connection may be stretching it, but it does give me something more to chew upon as I wait for others to show up as matches on Ancestry, and see if my results change at all.

    link to article: http://sciencenordic.com/immigration-viking-era

  7. I’m a bit late to this thread but I found the other comments useful today so I’m adding mine as well.

    I have been researching my family tree for about 20 years and have my paper ethnicity as follows.

    3/8 – 37.5% Italian
    1/8 – 12.5% Spanish

    1/8 – 12.5% Danish
    5/16 – 31.25% English/Irish
    1/16 – 6.25 % Norwegian

    On paper, I should be:
    50% Southern European
    31.25% British Isles
    18.75 Scandinavian

    According to AncestryDNA I am:
    34% Southern European
    31% Central European
    27% Scandinavian
    8% Persian/Turkish/Caucasus

    The Southern European seems to be about right but the Central European is a complete mystery to me. Perhaps from my Italian ancestry, part of my father’s family was from North of Milan, and he did have blue eyes and lighter brown hair, perhaps there was some Austrian blood in there.

    I’m very surprised that I show no DNA Ancestry from England/Ireland although I have heard that there have been problems with distinguishing British Isles DNA with Scandinavian. This might explain the higher than expected Scandinavian DNA in my results.

    The Turkish/Persian is nowhere to be found in my 20 years of genealogical research on my ancestry. I realize these tests may go back as far as a thousand years so who knows. Both my paternal Italian Grandfather and my Maternal half Danish grandfather were very dark so perhaps back in the distant past an ancestry may have immigrated from this area.

    I have just ordered National Geographics Gen 2.0 so hopefully they will be able to shed some additional light.

  8. I appreciate that these ethnicity results can be difficult to interpret. However, I was somewhat bemused by my own AncestryDNA results. I live in England, all my lines as far back as I can trace are from the British Isles, yet according to AncestryDNA I am 58% Central European, 25% British Isles, 13% Eastern European and 4% unknown. I’m finding that I have lots of matches with Americans who have a mix of British and other European ancestry and many of them are getting much higher percentages of “British Isles” ethnicity than me. I would like to know what Ancestry are using as their reference populations for the British Isles. Unfortunately they do not provide any information on their website and they have not replied to my feedback. It seems to me that these results are completely meaningless unless Ancestry can provide details of the reference populations they are using. In case it’s of interest I’ve done a blog post about my AncestryDNA results and provided a comparison with my ethnicity results from 23andMe and FTDNA:

    I appreciate that these ethnicity results can be difficult to interpret. However, I was somewhat bemused by my own AncestryDNA results. I live in England, all my lines as far back as I can trace are from the British Isles, yet according to AncestryDNA I am 58% Central European, 25% British Isles, 13% Eastern European and 4% unknown. I’m finding that I have lots of matches with Americans who have a mix of British and other European ancestry and many of them are getting much higher percentages of “British Isles” ethnicity than me. I would like to know what Ancestry are using as their reference populations for the British Isles. Unfortunately they do not provide any information on their website and they have not replied to my feedback. It seems to me that these results are completely meaningless unless Ancestry can provide details of the reference populations they are using. In case it’s of interest I’ve done a blog post about my AncestryDNA results and provided a comparison with my ethnicity results from 23andMe and FTDNA:

    http://cruwys.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/my-ancestry-autosomal-dna-test-part-i.html

  9. This information is helpful in interpreting the results that I had on my recent DNA test. I expected to see a high percentage British Isles, a small percentage Central European, and possibly some Scandanavian and American Indian. What I got was 96% Scandanavian, 4% Unknown. My family (both sides) go back at least 7-8 generations in the US, and all that I have origins on were from the British Isles. Nobody came from a Scandanavian country. What’s the chances that in all that genetic mixing that only Scandanavian genetics came through in me. I guess it’s possible, but my guess is the answer is that those interpreting these results do not have good references on origin…yet.

  10. hello all!
    my ancestry DNA came back as 81% central euopean 11% brittish isles and 8% finnish/volga-ural (of whick i had never heard of before) i was very surprised and i hope the continue to inprove and or add more information. i was slightly let down with cost vs. information which i felt was very vague. does anyone have a formula for caluclating you genetics through you paper tree? i would love to try this and compare. thanks!

  11. Great insight – thanks. I think many of us with high percentages of “UK ethnicity” may be losing sight of the high percentage of modern British Isle inhabitants and emigrants that actually originated arrived as part of the Norman conquest, Viking invasions and other leaps from the continent to the Isles. To simplify, how many current Brits are descended from the pre-Norman Brits (Britons/Druids, etc.)? Any way, tasty stuff!

  12. Just thought I would throw my two cents in here. And while I get that this cannot literally be mapped to the paper trail….I did and it was dead on in some ways…and not in others.

    On paper, I would be 50% Russian, 25% Scottish, and the last 25% is Irish, Dutch and a whole other mixed bag of things.

    My results came back as 76% Eastern European, 22% British Isles and 2% mystery meat…

    This -mostly- makes sense, in terms of the BI part being just about 100% correct.

    and the 50% eastern European…sure…granted I don’t really like their boundary of Eastern Eurpoean not including Russia….since they state

    ‘The area is considered by many ethnologists to be the homeland of the Slavic people. Most of the nations in the region speak a Slavic language, which spread north and east into Russia and south toward the Balkans in the 5th and 6th centuries.’

    Well if its the homeland of slavic peoples, then I would like to know how they are determining ‘russian’ vs the other slavic areas….but thats my own personal ‘a slav is a slav’ quibble.

    but then there is that ‘extra’ 26% that is currently also Eastern Eurpopean…which on paper is Irish, Dutch, English and a bunch of other random non-obviously eastern european folks…

    My gut logic tells me that not all of them, even if they migrated from somewhere else, would ALL be migrated from Eastern Europe.

    So I am sort of hoping to see that 26% and the 2% mystery meat, shift into slightly more accurate categories as time goes on.

    That said…it did match me with a 3rd cousin, and we have a common ancestor, and it turns out to be someone I ‘know’ from common research, so they are right on there.

    And another possible 4th cousin also had a tree match.

    3 other close cousins either had no tree, only had a last name match etc.

    So I don’t beleive it has any major issues either….and it makes me want to send off my mother’s spit…since she was the ’100% Russian side’, just to see what it thinks of her.

  13. I got my results back from ancestry.com and they are “somewhat” in the range of what I thought they would be. 57% British Isles, 35% Central European and 8% Finnish/Volga. I am quite amazed at all these other comments about people showing up with large amounts of Scandinavian. I am about 1/2 Norwegian, documented back some 500 years in some cases, yet my DNA shows no Scandinavian. This Norwegian comes from both sides of the family. I think anyone with European blood could come up with the statistics I showed. Going back 1000′s of years is pretty much a no-brainer with these percents. Ancestry makes you think from the advertising that the results will be much later.

    As you stated, ” Ten different researchers analyzing the same genome can come up with ten different estimates”. This in itself makes these tests really invalid since there are so many variables. If these companies were totally honest they would state this clearly instead of masking it in “1000′s of years” double-talk. Maybe at least 2 researchers should evaluate the results. It wouldn’t seem like such a rip-off.

    I also had my “ethnicity” done by Tribal DNA. LOL, I was almost 100% Spanish and Brazilian. Go Figure!

  14. I just got my results from AncestryDNA and let first start off by telling you my genealogical family tree: I have ancestors from France, Spain (Canary Islands), Germany and England. I was told I have Irish ancestry too, but I haven’t discovered that part of my tree yet.

    So my results of my test show me as: 61% Scandinavian, 33% Southern European and 6% uncertain. I’m very curious to what is that 6% uncertain. I’ve heard a story of a possible Native American ancestor, but don’t know if that’s true or not. Also, I’m positively confirmed to descend partially from Spanish Canary Islanders, and I know that in the Canary Islands before the Spanish conquest, there were North African Berbers. So possibly this 6% could be Berber? Or Native American? I really don’t know. But my money would probably be on the Berber. Does Ancestry detect “North African”?

    So my Scandinavian ancestry (61%) must be a conglomeration of my English, Irish and German ancestry. My Southern European ancestry (33%) must be my Spanish Canary Islander ancestry, and my French, could be possibly split between the two. And the 6% uncertain is just puzzling, very puzzling. Well, I guess this is…to be continued…

  15. I’ve been told that my paper heritage is 1/8 English Irish Scotch and German, and 1/4 Russian and Polish. Just got my AncestryDNA results back, and was a little surprised to see no British Isles, but instead 33% Scandinavian, 28% Central European, 23% Eastern European, and 16% Finnish/Volga-Ural. Well, I’m not very seriously trying to trace my roots, but I think I’ll dress up as a Viking for Hallowe’en this year :-).

  16. Hi there. About two years ago, i took an ancestry DNA test to find my true ancestry. I am English but my results left me gobsmacked. I am not an expert on DNA ancestry but i need your help. My results were, Strong English (as expected) Portuguese, Belgian, Dutch and (my biggest surprise) Russian. From what i understand about British history, my Portuguese DNA may stem from the early Basque people that first populated the land over 2000 years ago. My Dutch and Belgian side could be from the Germanic peoples that invaded England as the Anglo-Saxons but i still have no clue as to how i could have very strong Russian DNA. I know almost nothing about my fathers ancestry. Before i took the test, my nephew has always told me that i look like a Polish person. My other nephew is convinced that i must have some Russian ancestry and i have been stopped in the street by two Polsh women that were also convinced that i was Eastern European until i told them that i was not. I sent an email to International Biosciences (where i first took the test and i beeged them to look at my test results and to help in figuring out how i could have strong Russian DNA when i am English. They havent replied and that is why i am here. So please, could someone answer me and tell me how i could have Russian blood when i don’t, many thanks. Ps. i dont have my test results anymore as i have discarded them but i still need help with this.

  17. Oh and just one last thing. I may not know anything about my fathers ancestry but i have two photos of him. He was about 5′ 4″ tall, was naturally olive skinned, had a wide flat nose and jet black hair. Although my test results were 100% European, i do also wonder about the Portuguese DNA that i have. God i’m confused. I though that in taking this test i would get answers but instead i am left with more questions *sigh*.

  18. I got back my ancestry.com dna results two days ago and it has me questioning my paternity. I say this because I came up with;
    Scandinavian 39%West African 25%British Isles 13%Middle Eastern 8%Eastern European 6%Southern European 6%Uncertain 3%

    The British Isles I expected, the African I expected but the scandinavian NO, and the one thing missing is Asian of any kind. My father listed on my birth certificate and who my son is the spitting image of was indonesian (from indo-china) meaning there should be a bit of Asian in there someplace. My mothers side was primarily English and the roots go back hundreds of years from the British Isles so no big surprise there and my grandmothers father was Armenian so the Middle eastern I understand that. As well as the european stuff. but WHERE is my Asian and where the HECK did the Scandinavian come from and in such a high amount?

  19. Riah,

    If you read the posts above. It seems like most of us with British Isles ancestry, are coming up Scandinavian! While I understand the Viking invasion; why did that wash out most of the British Isles genes? I think this test is flawed in lots of ways. The test does not seem to be able to separate British Isles genes from Scandinavian genes. I guess the mixture goes back so far; that it is difficult to separate now.

  20. I dont know what to do you people got me so scared
    Im serious, im multiracially mixed so I know ill be
    Mad if my results comeback totally different, I
    Heard and read everyones dna results, and not one
    Of you are happy with the results,,people get over
    It,theres 3 things that went wrong here,number,1
    Maybe your family lied about their ancestry, or lied
    To, or did not know of any mixture, 2 maybe your
    Ancestors adouted somebody elses culture as there
    Own, even in generations far back, so far back that
    They forgot who they really were, and maybe they
    Were ashame of their real family cultures and ancestrty, hello
    And them not thinking that thier fellow
    Ancestors hundreds and thousands of years
    Later, are obiously gonna find outthe truth
    One way or another, and number 3 maybe
    Ancestrydna, got lazy and putting the same
    Results down, because they really dont know,

    Like what really got me was the 3% to 10% to
    12% unknown, omg I hate thatbecause if
    Other things coming up why not the hidden
    Unknown dna, I know ancestrydna doing their
    Best, no hate their but they need to do better
    Because we will always be curious about the
    Unknown %, possible a farn little country
    Somewhere over the rainbow, but its
    Weird because every thing shows up
    In the results but the mysteries unknown,
    I know when dont have the data base for the
    Unknown yet, blah,blah,blah, we citizens of america
    Work hard for our money, all we want to known
    Is us history in our genes nothings wrong with
    Because you dont wont a huge gap n between
    Your history, so we want the truth, I don’t
    Care if its like 1% unknown, I still want to know,
    Hell if we paid good hard working money on it
    We again deserve to know all the results every
    Penny.worth, thats a fact, I dont want to waist
    My money on bullshlt that doesnt make since,
    And I dont want ancestry to scam us out justto put fake results
    On paper or file, I dont know im a good person
    Who like and loves good honest,good,loyal people
    So we deserve to know the truth and all our results
    Because to me really folks, it makes it seem
    Unfisnished and alittle sloppy,,,,every other
    D.n.a companies out there,(the teal honest ones)
    Have a complete results, and no a unknown,
    God knows eberytime I seen unknowni kep
    Thinking what the hell was that, and why didn’t
    It show up like that, I know im have trouble
    If I get a test.donebecause I got so,much blood
    That mine will be way off, I have black blood,jewish
    Blood,irish blood,scottish blood,white blood, ,and
    Native american blood, that native american blood is probably
    A lie like alot of families, some of my ancestors
    Probably lied to find black blood in them,go figure
    So thats why they adopted a fake ass native american lie and myth
    Stories, my family is from south carolina and has
    Been there for over 100 hundred years, and
    When the white settliers came over and remove
    The native american indian out the south and north
    Carolinas that was in 1830,to the north, or whatever
    So how rt he hell could we be indian or have indian
    Blood, when all the indians from the south was removed in 1830,
    So it would be a complete lie, are they were
    Lied to and to stupid to find out if the indian in the family was true,
    Anyway I just want to sometime punch that side
    Of the family in the face, for lyingabout their
    Ancestors, its not right, and thats was we
    Get different results from today,but since
    Im so mixed up more so than others,mine
    Would probably come out,black,irish, and scottish
    Blood, thank god my mothers side of the family
    Doesnt andnever lies about thier history, thats a
    Blessing, but the otherside, my fathers side lies
    Like hell, they say we native american indians
    Because we look indian, so what, it probably
    Cone from the black white unions in myfamily
    For generations, and we just morphed into
    Other looks of other races over time so whatever
    No indian blood will show up, I put money on it
    Anyway, I think mine test will say black and white
    , thats all,hell my family from south carolina,
    And only thing was down there was, blacks,whites,irish,and scottish people
    I dont know about jewish people, I guesss my
    Clueless,mindless aunt was lying about that to,just
    to be special or the queen of exotic race mixing,
    Whatever, I know their mixed black and white meaning
    The irish blood will show, because we got a irish
    Last name, go figure, I know you have been
    There with me, you asked your older family
    Members, stories about race and history
    And they fake being sick like baby I got a headache,
    Or im sleepy, or tell somebody to say they aint home
    Or just make up lies or been liedto, so I know
    You.all understand, and thats why ancestrydna
    Resultsare always suprising everytime, because of
    The lies from families hiding stuff or they were
    Lied to, or stole another persons identidy, or guessing or asuming,
    No we want thr truth, the right answers for future
    Generations to come,thats a fact, because we
    Dont want the younger generation living a lie
    They want to know who are they and their ancestors
    And genetics, and d.n.a. Truthfulness, no lies,noscamimg, no
    Fake results, or no confusing ones, or misleading ones,
    Just real true results that make scence, so people be
    Careful, I want one so for bad for years a d.n.a.test
    But im scared ima be mad, anger, and violent
    Towards those liars in my family, lol but whatever I might
    For.christmas, as a gifted to me,
    Anyway sorry this was long what once you read
    Youll get the same vibe, especially fromresults,family,
    Cultures, history, and family is everything to me no matter
    How they act, I love them,if it wasnt for our ancestors
    We would be here, god bless:-) be proud of who you are,:-) ok im really gone now lol:-)

  21. When I got my results from my ancestrydna test I was puzzled as most of my ancestors come from England so I wrote to an English friend to help clear up my concerns. She gave me this explanation.

    Here is a brief history of ‘England’ …Archaeologists think, that the first Modern Humans got here about 25,000 years ago, from EUROPE ( so, we all have European roots ) and most importantly, we were JOINED to EUROPE at this point.

    Then 10,000 years ago, when the Last Ice Age happened, those inhabitants were forced back into Europe, by the impact, it was like trying to live on the North Pole. 9,500 years ago, the ice began to melt and formed the English channel, separating England as we now call it, from Europe. As time went by, various groups of people arrived over the Channel. One of these being the Beaker People, who built Stonehenge ( c 3000 BC ) circa 2000 AD., the Celtic Tribes started arriving, from Europe ( mainly from the coasts of France and Belgium ).

    Around the times of Jesus, the Romans arrived and stayed about 400 years. The angles and Saxons, then started arriving ( from Germany and Holland ). 800 AD., the Vikings then came, from Scandinavia. In 1066 we were defeated by the Normans and the Country was ruled by William the conqueror, they were French, with Scandinavian descent. 80% of the DNA checked in Britain, shows European ‘Hunter Gatherer’ descendancy. There is no ‘ENGLISH / BRITISH Native People’. But we do have a 25,000 year old History ..

  22. Ancestry.com results:
    British Isles
    70%
    Scandinavian
    30%

    What’s not accounted for is Swiss/Italian on my mother’s side, Swiss/German. I have Irish on bot sides and Irish in Newfoundland but no Scandinavian that I have found. So the Scandinavian may be explainable but I’m wondering why no smaller percentages for the other known ancestors.

  23. For #26 Cynthia…Very good information, very well said. My ancestry.com result was 37% Scandinavian, I was very surprised, but in researching my father’s mother’s maiden name it does come from Scandinavia, so there you go…good luck to all.

  24. My ancestry.com results were:

    53% British Isles
    36% Central European
    6% Central Asian
    5% Uncertain

    Nothing surprising about the British Isles and Central Europe, but the Central Asian was totally unexpected. I have numerous DNA matches for the British Isles and Central Europe but absolutely no matches for Central Asia. It makes me feel somewhat unique that non of my matches has this component, but I’m just wondering how it factors in. Any idea?

  25. I’ve been thinking about my genetics for decades. All family seem to be from England, but I kept thinking, with England’s history of invasions, where did they really come from. After starting a free account at Ancestry.com, during which period I also was reading a lot more ancient history, I came to suspect that Vikings figured into the picture. And as I learned more from my history reading and more via Ancestry.com, sure enough, back in the mists of time those mariner/warrior/trader/naughty-breeding-boys are there. That knowledge opened my mind to the difference between where my ancestors were born (I’m English) and who they really were (I’m Scandinavian and a lot of other things), and therefore, who I really am.

    I’m very proud of my 27th and etc. great grandfathers and grandmothers and all the ones in between (grandmothers are harder to trace, unfortunately), and am thrilled to find them no matter where they came from.

  26. For #29 Kim

    Perhaps your Asian dna relates to ancient migration paths.
    For more about that, The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Brian Sykes. Certain parts may now be dated, and the Seven Daughters are fable, but the book is mind-opening.

  27. I just received my husband’s genetic DNA match from Ancestry.com and it does not match either his family tree or his Y-DNA test. He is 1/4 Swedish. His great grandparents immigrated from Sweden in the 1880′s. His Y-DNA test states that he is I1 which I understand is a Scandinavian haplotype. His Ancestry.com dna states that he is 56% British Isle and 44% Central European. Any ideas why no Scandinavian dna shows up?

  28. I found all of your comments very helpful. I found out from the AncestryDNA test that I took that at least one quarter of my ancestry is central european with a very pronounced slant towards Germany in my matches. According to my paper geneaology and family history there are zero German people in my family. We have no history of adoption to my knowledge in my family and no “messing around”. To echo the point by others here when I called ancestry for further clarification I get very vague information. Hopefully with time things will flush out as their testing populations grows.

  29. RESEARCH: GENETIC HISTORY OF THE BRITISH ISLES
    “Potentially important historical periods of migration which have
    been subject to consideration in this field include the introduction of
    Celtic languages and technologies (during the Bronze and Iron Ages), the
    Roman era, the period of Anglo-Saxon influx, the Viking era, the Norman
    invasion of 1066 and the era of European wars of religion. There are also
    similarly many potential eras of movement between different parts of the
    British Isles….”A study into the SCANDINAVIAN ANCESTRY OF BRITISH
    PEOPLE found that there is evidence of PARTICULAR CONCENTRATIONS IN
    Shetland and Orkney in Scotland, Isle of Man, Wirral, West Lancashire and
    Cumbria in England, Western Isles and Skye in Scotland, Mid-Cheshire in
    England, Western Scotland, and Anglesey in Wales”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_history_of_the_British_Isles

  30. My ancestors came from Poland and Slovakia so I expected 100% Eastern European from the Ancestry DNA test. However, it was only 46% EE and 49% British Isles, totally unexpected. Does anyone know if there were there any migrations from the British Isles to Poland/Slovakia?

  31. I just got my results. Turns out I’m 32% African. Only 10% Italian. 56% Irish So the big secret is finally revealed. My Dad is Black not Italian. LOL he is mad. I knew it in my heart. Do I get two acres and a mule? my ancestors passed as white/Italian to escape. So I guess great great great grandpa raped a slave which made for light skin kids. I am a Jones according to my cousin matches. I’m Proud of who I am. My relative were survivors. I know when I watched Obama become President my spirit rose within me. All life began in Africa & we are all the human race. I wonder if I can apply for a minority scholarship now. I hope I don’t get pulled over more now that I know. Can’t wait to say “it’s bc I’m black”. I love being African American. Now when I sing at church they can’t say she sings like a black girl. That’s bc I am.
    Hallelujah!

  32. I can be pretty sure that the genealogical DNA tests are not to be used as paternity test EVER. I would strongly encourage you to have Dad have his own test done.

  33. I have a hard time accepting that the vikings bred as crazy as these people’s results indicate. For so many folks outside of Scandinavia to be descent from them and for there to be a stable enough population base remaining in Scandinavia, makes one assume the population must have been relative to other nations so astronomical. And I doubt it was so signifcant compared to the Britons and other people they bred with.

    I’m thinking Y DNA with strong R1A DNA is being called “Scandinavian”. Or something a bit like that.

  34. I am African American, and I have long known about my European identify through family history and genealogical records, some discovered through ancestry.com. Indeed, I can trace my roots to King Robert II of Scotland. I have unverified oral history of German ancestry, but so far no leads. My African ancestry has been even more mysterious, so I was looking forward to my genetic results.

    I came out 37% Scandinavian and 61% West African. The remaining 2% was uncertain. West Africa is quite diverse, so I know nothing about what tribe my ancestors came from–Yoruba, Igbo, Mandingo? What is curious about the Scandinavian part is that, if I trace my Scottish royal ancestors back enough, I find vikings. So, there is definitely evidence supporting the viking ancestry. Still, the spread through Scotland, Ireland, and maybe even Germany to America suggests that there was something else going on with the Vikings than just the usual rape and pillage.

  35. After reading through most of this it seems to me that the technology is too immature to produce anything other than vague results. DNA is an incredibly complex substance and it could be that it will never be possible to identify racial backgrounds with 100% confidence even with a massive database. Right now any results you get may be kinda-right or may be totally wrong – but you can’t tell.

  36. Just got back the DNA results from ancestry.com. What a mind blowing surprise. According to them I am 100% British Isles descent. I have concrete proof that my great great grandmother came to the U.S. from Sweden and that her people immigrated from Germany. So figure this one out??? My father’s DNA is more the mystery. Some said his father was NezPerce and some said white. Now I wonder what it really was. Also my great-grandmother from my mother’s father was pure Cherokee from South Carolina. I will wonder for awhile what the real truth is. Will take everything with a grain of salt….

  37. My reported Ethnicity: British Isles 71%; Persian/Turkish/Caucasus 14 %; Uncertain 15%
    My wife’s reported Ethnicity: Southern European 48%; Persian/Turkish/Caucasus 34; Eastern European 12%; Middle Eastern 6%
    Our 100% confirmed son’s reported ethnicity: Central European 66%; Middle Eastern 14%; Persian/Turkish/Caucasus 15%; Uncertain 5%
    I understand that this is not an exact science, but how can our known confirmed son have a 66% ethnicity that neither of his parents share!?
    Even the test indicates a 99% probability that he is our son!!

    I think that with such demonstrable inaccuracies the test is grossly overpriced.

  38. My sister & I had our dna from ancestry.com. They are different. If we do have the same father would our biogeographical dna be exactly the same? Our Mom died 20 yrs ago, can’t ask her. Any of you know the answer?

  39. I’ve read your entire explanation…and it still doesn’t make sense to me…according to the Ancestry Autosomal DNA test supposedly I am 70% Scandinavian, 23% Eastern European ( which I expected ), 6% Finnish, 1% Unknown.

    Ancestry claims that the test is “more recent targeting of family history of a 100 or a few 1,000 years as compared to the Y & Mt DNA test which is 10,000-50,000 yrs.”
    They also say that, “If you have German or Brit ancestors your genetic ethnicity may be PARTLY Scandinavian”.

    Soooo – My tree – Paternal Grandfather 100% Irish, Paternal grandmother 50% German & 50% English. Each of the G Grandparents being 100% German/English.
    My maternal side is Polish/Lithuanian 50/50 or there about.

    I STILL have relatives living in the town mine come from (mid Germany) – which was settled in 900 AD. My English relatives go back to the middle ages in Yorkshire…
    NONE of which shows up in my DNA as British Isles or Central Europe (?!) Nothing? Not even 5%?? How is this possible? I feel like I’ve been given someone else’s test results!

  40. Your original explanation that everyone has 2 trees is spot on. A great explanation of why this is so seemingly convuluted is a PBS documentary from a few years back called “Map of Human Migration.” “Who” your ancstors are does not always equal “where” your ancestors lived.

  41. Same thing occurs with FTDNA…I’ve been saying this for a long time in regards to autosomal dna testing and people who run out visit relatives after testing 12 markers.

    What has occurred is that the base data has been skewed. It get’s worse when base data participants “self identify.” This is particularly problematic with Jewish groups and as we can see it has spread.

    In regards to Askenazi Jewish groups a recent paper pointed out that nearly 40% of all Italians share a connection to Ask. Jews. Meaning that Ask.Jews came out of Italy at some point. “The origin of Eastern European Jews revealed by autosomal, sex chromosomal and mtDNA polymorphisms” Avshalom Zoossmann-Diskin,

    Since most Mexicans probably have some Spanish ancestry, and Spainards are autosomally connected to Italians next, and Italians are next autsomally connected to A.J. then I think the genetic sites are jumping to the next conclusion that some Mexicans are AJ as well (since AJ is connected to Sephardic)…..I’m not saying that withing reason say 3%-6-10% of Southern Spaniards and Mexicans have some Jewish ancestry, but the reporting I keep seeing is out of bounds.

  42. What is the big stink about no raw data? I just got my results, and it included a link to download the raw dna data…

  43. I tested with Ancestry a few months ago. My paper ancestry is
    25% French Canadian (Acadian)
    25% Irish
    50% English, Scots

    Autosomal test
    75% British Isles
    25% Scandinvian
    9% Persian,Turkish.Caucasus
    5% uncertain.

    I have not found any exact matches, yet, but most of the surname matches have been to people with the same Acadian surnames – Boudrot, Landry, etc. that are not reflected at all in the DNA test. I am seriously considering doing another test with FTDNA. I had my brother do a Y-DNA test with FTDNA and got some unexpected results, but the Irish and Acadian ancestry is on my mother’s side. Her mother was first generation Irish and her father was born in Nova Scotia. I can see where the Irish might be Scandinavian, and I can see where the French might have some Middle Eastern, but the total lack of Central Europe is a bit surprising.

  44. Sorry about the error in the last post. Should have been

    60% British Isles
    26% Scandinavian
    9% Persian, etc.
    5% uncertain.

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