Saturday, August 17, 2013

My AncestryDNA Results

A few weeks back, I mailed in a sample of my DNA as part of the AncestryDNA kit. I received an e-mail on August 3 from Ancestry, confirming that my sample had arrived and that my results should be in within six to eight weeks.

Well, to my surprise, I got an e-mail this morning, telling me that my AncestryDNA results are already in. 

My results were interesting but at the same time, very surprising.


According to my results, I am 81% Scandinavian, 8% Southern European, 7% Persian/Turkish/Caucasus, and 4% Uncertain.

I was very surprised to see that I am 81% Scandinavian. I know I'm Swedish but didn't realize it was that much. I have documentation in my genealogy records showing that my great-great-grandmother on my father's side hailed from Ireland and I was surprised that AncestryDNA didn't even acknowledge that. I showed this to my cousin, Anneli, and she said that it's quite possible that my Irish ancestors (as well as Scottish) might have originally been vikings of some sort and come from one of the Scandinavian countries.

I am 8% Southern European. AncestryDNA lists modern day locations for Southern European ethnicity as being Italy, Spain, and Portugal. If I had to guess, I would say that this is on my mother's side but I'm really not certain.

Apparently, I am also 7% Persian/Turkish/Caucasus. According to AncestryDNA, modern day locations for this ethnicity include Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan. This was probably the most surprising of all. I really didn't even see this one coming and haven't a clue what side it could be on. I'm as curious as much as I am baffled at this point.

And last but not least, 4% of my ethnicity remains uncertain. AncestryDNA gives the following explanation for "Uncertain":
Most people may have a percentage with ‘uncertain’ in their genetic ethnicity results. This means that small traces of a specific genetic population have been found in your DNA, but the probability levels were too insignificant to pinpoint it to a specific ethnicity. This is not uncommon, and as more genetic signatures are discovered with a higher confidence level, we may be able to update this ‘uncertain’ percentage of your ethnicity over time.
Hopefully, AncestryDNA will be able to update my "uncertain" percentage over time because I really am curious as to just what exactly it is.

On AncestryDNA's Frequently Asked Questions page, one of the questions is the same question I had, "My genetic ethnicity results don’t seem to match what I would have expected. Why is that?" AncestryDNA gives the following explanation:
Your family tree may go back hundreds of years, but there could be more to your family’s story that’s just out of reach of paper documents and conventional research. AncestryDNA can reach back hundreds, maybe even a thousand years, to tell you things that aren’t in historical records—things you might have never known otherwise.
Although our ethnicity algorithms and prediction models will continue to improve over time, there are a few reasons why your ethnicity may not be exactly what you expected:
1. Your genetic ethnicity results go back hundreds of years. In some cases, the markers in your DNA may reveal ethnicities that go back hundreds, even a thousand years. This could differ from what you have documented in your family tree. So keep in mind that there may be some ethnic differences in your more recent family history as compared to generations ago.
2. 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.
3. Your DNA is inherited through the generations. Each parent gives each of their children exactly half of their DNA. But the assortment of genes or markers is going to be unique to each child. That’s why most siblings look and act differently. Similarly, your parents will give you a different assortment of the markers that we use to predict your ethnicity. So if you factor this out over the course of several generations, the relative contribution of any one ancestor to your genetic make-up (for height, eye-color or ethnicity), can vary and may not be detectable.
Another question I had about the results when I first saw them was accuracy, which is another question asked on the Frequestly Asked Questions page. AncestryDNA gives the following answer:
AncestryDNA uses advanced scientific techniques to produce your results. We measure and analyze a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 locations. During the testing process, each DNA sample is held to a quality standard of at least a 98% call rate. Any results that don’t meet that standard may require a new DNA sample to be collected.
Then we compare your DNA to one of the most comprehensive and unique collections of DNA samples from people around the world, to identify overlap. As our database of DNA samples continues to grow, you could receive updates with new information.
Given all this, I am left at this point with feeling a combination of both bewilderment and intrigue. And after looking over these results, I'm really not sure where to go from here. But I'm sure I'll figure it out at some point.


Copyright © 2013, David J. McRae

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