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Wednesday
May092012

Genetic Ethnicity from my Ancestry.com DNA Analysis

Wow, it's been awhile since my last post! April was a very busy and celebratory month filled with baby showers, bachelorette parties, birthdays, and bridal parties. With all the big changes quickly approaching (twin baby girls due late July) my posts will probably become a bit sporadic, but I will not give it up!

I first shared my interest in Ancestry.com's new venture in DNA testing for genealogical research a few months ago, read my post and reader comments. At the end of November I swabbed my cheek and sent my DNA sample to Ancestry.com. Just 4 months later I was SUPER excited when I finally got the email notification that my test results were available. Since Ancestry DNA is still in it's Beta stage, there are disclaimers that results may not be as accurate as possible at first. They warn me that as more samples are processed and more samples are added to the database, results will become more accurate. This might be due to under or over representation of certain ethnicities.

How is ethnicity determined?

From ancestry.com-

"Your genetic ethnicity is a prediction of your ethnic background. We take segments of your DNA and compare them to our ethnicity database, which contains one of the most comprehensive collections of DNA samples from people around the world. We group individuals with a well-established family history in a given place (British Isles for example) and then compare your DNA to each unique group in order to identify overlap. And as our database continues to grow, you could receive updates with new information.

DNA changes slightly with each generation, and over time any group of people that are relatively isolated (by geography or culture) develop unique genetic signatures that we can look for. It’s this aspect of DNA that makes our ethnicity predictions all possible.

We expect that over time, as the science continues to evolve, we'll be able to show more granular ethnic regions—even regions within a specific country."

I do wish they had the ability to break it down into specific country, but I understand how challenging that is with constantly changing borders! A big mystery I'm looking to solve in my family tree is the birth place of my great grandparents who are from Galicia, a region within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They might be from Poland, Hungry, or Austria.

Anyways, back to my results. They found my genetic ethnicity to be 44% Eastern European, 41% British Isles, and 15% Scandinavian (BIG surprise there). I expected the eastern european/british split (mother's side/father's side), but I have no idea where the Scandinavian comes from. I also expected some German in there, from census records I've found my ggg grandfather Jacob Grimm would have been born in Germany and so were both of his parents. TBD!

This is how my results are displayed:

Did you participate in Ancestry.com's DNA project? Do you have an interest in DNA testing for genealogy? I'd love to hear from you! I am VERY novice when it comes to DNA and genealogy, but I want to learn more! 

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References (3)

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    Genetic Ethnicity from my Ancestry.com DNA Analysis - Genealogy and Historical Pursuits - Genealogy & History with a modern twist!
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    Response: Rashmi Patel
    Genetic Ethnicity from my Ancestry.com DNA Analysis - Genealogy and Historical Pursuits - Genealogy & History with a modern twist!
  • Response
    Response: Rashmi Patel
    Genetic Ethnicity from my Ancestry.com DNA Analysis - Genealogy and Historical Pursuits - Genealogy & History with a modern twist!

Reader Comments (12)

Hi! Congrats on your impending motherhood! I am hearing the "Scandinavian surprise" from MANY AncestryDNA testers. I believe pretty strongly that Ancestry is overestimating this percentages for many of us. It appears to me that British Isles may be somehow masquerading as Scandinavian in their algorithms. Since the feature is still in Beta, hopefully this will be adjusted in the future. In the meantime, I would take it with a grain of salt.
Best of luck with the new babies!!

May 20, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterCeCe Moore

I share your confusion. My results came back with 53% Scandinavian, 35% British Isles and 12% Eastern Europe. But, I'm not aware of a single ancestor who came to American from Scandinavia or Eastern Europe. Lot's of English, & Irish, with a few Scots a good number of Germans, 1 Dutch, 1 French, and 1 Swiss connection.

My question would be where does "British Isles" DNA come from? Is that primarily Celtic ancestry? The British Isles were conquered by Jutes, Angles, Saxons, Norman's and finally Vikings who all mixed their genes with the original Celtic peoples. Is that where all the Scandinavian DNA is coming from?

Jun 7, 2012 at 12:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJBMills

Yes, congrats on the our pending descendants! I've been interested in DNA testing for some time but not pulled the trigger quite yet. Will you please comment on why you choose ancestry vs. other DNA vendors such as 23andme? You mentioned that Ancestry is still in their DNA 'infancy', so I'm just curious if there are other DNA services that you might recommend in addition to Ancestry.com. Given the expense, I'm sure it's not something that easy to compare services. I'm looking forward to doing my own DNA test soon. Thank you for the post.

Jun 30, 2012 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterShack - The Ancestry Ace

I just received my DNA results today. I think my surprise in the testing is it must go much further back than I anticipated. My father's side is German with all my 3x's great grandparents being born in Germany. My Mother's side primarily English, some Irish, Scottish and German, but have been in the US for 400 years. My test showed 81% Scandinavian, 17% Southern Europe & 2% unknown. I was expecting to hear about 60% German!!! That's why I feel the test goes back further with migration to the countries I know are in my lineage. As mentioned, as time goes by & more results collected, hopefully it will be more precise. I was shocked with 17% southern Europe. I'm not aware of any lineage from Portugal or Spain. Would love to hear others results!

Jul 20, 2012 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn

Because I had been reading so much confusion on this issue, I wrote a post last month discussing the apparent overestimation of Scandinavian in the AncestryDNA test. I spoke with Ken Chahine who is the General Manager. I will post a link to it below if you are interested in reading more about what might be happening.

Jul 20, 2012 at 9:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterCeCe Moore

http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com/2012/06/my-review-of-ancestrydnas-admixture.html

Jul 20, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterCeCe Moore

I just got my results from ancestry also, I had 63% Scandinavian, 17% Eastern European, and 13% Southern European, and unknown 7%. I have no known Scandinavian or Southern European ancestry in my family tree. I am assuming this is ancient ancestry from long ago, most likely a viking. I am actually French Canadian traced back 500 years from Normandy, Breton, and Paris. I have German ancestry from Prussia, which is now Poland. My dad is half Czech, and Half German. My Mom is French Canadian, German,Czech, and English. I had the same surprise, accept I had read that the results won't always matchup. I wonder though if my results will change, many said they had adjustments in the percentages. My cousins from the site have no matching names from my family tree.

Oct 8, 2012 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered Commentermarie

I was also surprised with my results expecting a large percentage of Eastern European since I consider myself 1/4 Polish/Ukrainian on my mother's side and lots of names in my tree coming out of the British Isles. However, about 60% of my results were split between Scandinavian and Central Europe. I got no results showing British Isles DNA. The more I thought about it this is where I think the Scandinavian is coming from: during the Viking invasions of Britain there was a lot of intermingling with the locals. Some studies reveal alot of Viking DNA present in Britain today. Also consider the Norman conquest of Britain... again, Scandinavian blood. The area of France known as Normandy got its name from the Northmen or Norsemen that settled it. In the area of modern Ukraine and Russia there was a strong influence of trade from the Varangians and Rus of Scandinavia. Although there is much discussion/disagreement about it, it's believed they intermingled with these people. The first czars and princes were of Norse blood. Concerning the celtic people of the British Isles, they were not native to that land.... they came from continental Europe. I believe what the testing is identifying as British Isles DNA is coming from the earlier tribes such as the Picts. Just my own personal interpretation.

Oct 12, 2012 at 11:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterK Carnley

I went to England last year. The area where my family is from was full of Viking history. One of two Loki stones in Europe was found in the local church where my ancestors are interred. The Scandinavian is easily explained because the Vikings came to UK from Norway, Sweden or Denmark. The Romans lived in the area before them. Our guide pointed out all the straight roads were built by the Romans. After the Vikings, came the Normans with the Battle of Hastings. They were from Normandy, but also Viking descendants of Rolf or Rollo or his men.

Oct 22, 2012 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered Commentercindymusgrove

My linage is stated as 65% Central European and 35% Scandinavian which was a surprise in that most of what I have found is that most of my immediate immigration came from Scotch Irish, Irish, English and some German. Most of my ancestors have been in America since the early days of our country. I was really surprised there were no Brittish Isles or English.

Dec 26, 2012 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterearlenebradley

Marie, Most of my mother's family came from Quebec and they in turn came from Normandy. The DNA test from Ancestry showed that I am approximately 40% Scandinavian. K. Carnley's brief history lesson is accurate. The vikings invaded and colonized Normandy, and then invaded England. It would make sense that those coming from families of England and Normandy might have a high percentage of Scandinavian genes.

Feb 4, 2013 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn H.

I was very excited when receiving my dna test results from Ancestry a few weeks ago. Results are: 85% Scandinavian, 10% Southern European, and 5% uncertain. This may have surprised me since my family mostly came from Ireland, Holland, England, Germany, with a smaller group from Normandy and another area in France, but most being born in the US..

I was even more excited with the results because they were unexpected. Of course my first question was "What's my 5%?" Hope someday to know. Now I'm searching the history of the people groups and their movements. All tribes and groups migrate. Who were the 1st people to Scandinavia?

Feb 28, 2013 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterJo-and

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