Tech Tuesday – DNA Test Results, Surprise!

I’ve wanted to have a DNA test done for years, but the technology that was available (Y-DNA, and mitochondrial or mtDNA) was expensive and limited. Briefly, Y-DNA tests a direct paternal line, mtDNA tests a direct maternal line. Each test starts at around $150 and goes up from there and the results are only telling you about a very specific line in your family tree.

On this past season of the PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr., Dr. Gates introduced a DNA part to the show where he would show a very simple pie chart that represented the persons ethnicity. The type of test he uses is an Autosomal (auDNA) test. From my very basic level of understanding, you get a much more complete picture because each autosome (1/2 of a chromosome pair) has segments of DNA that are passed down from each prior generation. More about Autosomal and genetic testing here.

Around November 2011, Ancestry.com sends me an email that says for $9.95 shipping and handling, I can be in the Beta test of their new Autosomal DNA test. So I signed up, got my kit, swabbed my cheek and sent it in. And waited, and waited… Finally, in April 2012 I get the notification that my results are in!

At this point, I had certain expectations based upon what I know of my family history. I have always self-identified as Irish/Italian. My immigrant ancestors are from Ireland, England, Italy, Poland and Germany. I have documents that show this, so I feel very confident that my DNA results will show this makeup. Well, not quite, here’s a screenshot of my results:

The numbers on the map represent birth locations from my actual tree.

Scandinavian? What the…. I’m thinking – there’s a mistake, my results were mixed up with someone else’s. I don’t have one ancestor from that part of the world, not one. So I start doing some research on the web and find that others were seeing similar results. I’m  not sure about the 7% Persian/Turkish/Caucus either.

I call Ancestry customer support and the helpful rep tells me that first- the results could be showing information from hundreds and hundreds of years ago and second- as more people take the test, the more accurate the results will be and that percentages can change a little. I think, like a lot of people, my expectations were that the test would show maybe 200 years back at the most, although I didn’t have a specific number in my head. It would be Irish/Eastern Europe/Italian/English, confirming exactly what the birth certificates show. Apparently, DNA doesn’t really care what we think, it just is.

So the more I read about it, the more comfortable I am that the test is accurate and that ultimately the results are showing “deeper” ancestry than is possible by using records alone. Vikings got around apparently. Right now I’m reading Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland by Brian Sykes to learn more. Spoiler alert: the genetic roots of Britain and Ireland are significantly Scandinavian!

Maybe that’s why I had such blond hair as a kid and why I can actually stand to shop in Ikea? Ok, I really don’t like shopping at Ikea, but I do like this song. It’s interesting to learn new things that challenge what you’ve always thought about yourself, although I don’t think I’ll change my “Irish/Italian” self-identification just yet.

Ancestry also compares your results with other members results to find potential “cousins”.

I haven’t found a connection with anyone as of yet, although I’ve found many cousins via the traditional genealogical methods. I’m hopeful that as more members take the test I’ll see more matches.

You can order a test or read more about the AncestryDNA program. I’d recommend it, you might learn something new!

Have you taken a DNA test? Did the results surprise you? Please let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear about it.

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14 thoughts on “Tech Tuesday – DNA Test Results, Surprise!

  1. still waiting on results…. I think as history is one of my main interests I’ll be a bit more prepared for the idea that our ancestors moved around a lot, living in a country for several generations doesnt mean that portion of the family wasnt founded by an immigrant from somewhere else. How many middle easterners must have migrated to Italy for instance… Nice blog post, enjoyed it.

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  2. Another excellent post Dave. I didn’t renew my Ancestry subscription in January with all the changes my family was going through, moving, etc. Your posts are really inspiring me to jump back in. I’d love to be part of the DNA beta but I’m not sure how to sign up. I assume I would have to re-activate my subscription first.

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    • Thanks Tom! The AncestryDNA test is now open to everyone i think, it’s $99 for members, not sure if it’s more if your not. You can sign up and they will email when you can buy one. Let me know if you get one!

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      • 25% southern european
        33% persian turkish caucacus
        31 Middle Eastern
        10 Central Europe
        My DNA results are the result of Invasion after Invasian. No other explanation. Why are my middle eastern numbers so high?

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  3. I just ordered the new DNA test from Ancestry for $99. Not sure who will test. I tested family members previously at Ancestry for Y-DNA and mtDNA with limited results. My autosomal testing was done at 23andMe and the results for my mother were enlightening.

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    • Hi Jody, did your 23andMe results come back in a similar format to how my Ancestry results did? I’m curious if they show more or less info. I think I’m going to try a Y-DNA and possibly an mtDNA, would you recommend either service for those? Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. I blogged about my results at DNA Test Results. Initially, I was surprised to see 16% Scandinavian, as I don’t show any lines tracing to any Scandinavian countries, but as you’ve said, once you learn about the deep history of the British Isles, the Scandinavian results make sense.

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  5. I just now received my own DNA results from Ancestry. Like many others the results claim I am quite Scandanavian – 74% Scandanavian, 14% Turkish/Persian/Caucasus, and 10% Sourthern European. I do not have one ancestor from within those areas. I think the Ancestry DNA program has a long way to go before it can be taken to have any kind of more clear accuracy. Or my test went really bad.

    My ancestors probably have some Scandanavian influence (heck, they even sacked Paris) but the bulk are from western Europe. At the great-great-grandparent level they are from Germany (Baden [12%] & Emsland/Osnabrueckerland in Niedersachsen [25%]), France (Moselle in Lorraine [12%]), Belgium (Brabant Wallon [6] & Luxembourg [12]), Switzerland (Ct Jura [7]) and Poland (Posen [12]). The remaining two [14%] I am fairly sure of their origins in the Franche-Comte of France or the Belgian-French borderlands of Hainaut/Nord.

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    • Hi Lynn, have you made any connections on Ancestry from your DNA test? If you have, curious if you’ve seen similar percentages on their ethnicity. One thing I’ve learned over the past few months is that the test only represents a small, random sampling of DNA, so the percentages are estimates based on a sample that may or may not be representative of the whole, more like a guideline or pointer than anything else.

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  6. Just got my results back on 8-20-12 and it said it I 69% Britsh Isles,24% Scandinavin and 7% Persian/Turkish Caucasus. From my father I knew I was Irish and English and my mother I knew I was German. Did not relize that some german tribes were from the southern plains of present day Scandinavia. No wonder I am always defending my boy friend’s cat who is a Norwegian Forest Cat ! I do not think we are related ,but it was interesting to see the Persian Turkish Caucasus percent was the same.

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    • Hi Maureen, I’m wondering if the P/T/C % is from my Italian ancestors, just because of proximity to that part of the world. I have some German as well which probably accounts for some of the Scandinavian.
      Thanks for stopping by, I hope you make some connections with your DNA test!
      Dave

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  7. Pingback: Tech Tuesday – DNA Test Results, Update 2 | The eLuceydator

  8. Well, as near as I can tell based on DNA and anthropological evidence there were two major waves of immigration into Europe before recorded history began. The first was approximately 40,000 years ago when the first modern humans began to settle the whole of Europe. The second was during the neolithic revolution. Farmers, having domesticated certain crops, from what is now Turkey, expanded into Europe around 10,000 years ago. These people mixed with the original Europeans to a greater or lesser extent, and that is my guess as to why many people of European ancestry have some relation to Persia/Turkey/Caucasus regions when they take the DNA tests.

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