Ancestry's DNA database is absolutely fascinating

Because I’m a history nerd, I did the DNA test a year ago. My results were that I was:

34% Southern European

21% Eastern European

17% Finnish/Volga/Ural

13% British Isles

8% Scandanavian

7% Central European

As you can see some of those are really broad groups that encompass a whole lot of area. At the time Ancestry said that as they did more work, analysis, and added more people to the database they would be able to become more and more accurate, and would be able to break down genetic populations with increasing accuracy.

They just sent me the tightened up results, where each of those above categories has been broken down into smaller sub groups. This is absolutely fascinating stuff.

Africa 3%

  • Africa North 3%

Europe 96%

  • Europe East 27%
  • Iberian Peninsula 20%
  • Great Britain 18%
  • Europe West 16%
  • Ireland 8%
  • Finland/Northwest Russia 3%
  • Italy/Greece 2%
  • Scandinavia 1%
  • European Jewish 1%

West Asia< 1%

  • Trace Regions< 1%

    Edit to add, the trace group here is Middle East. Didn’t open that up before cutting and pasting.

So in a year their database went from differentiating 6 population groups to 11. At this rate in a few years they’ll be able to tell you which valley your ancestors came from.

As a retired number cruncher, I’m curious what happened with their British Isles/Scandinavia numbers from the last time around to this time. Apparently my Vikings were actually Irishmen all along. 🙂

The biggest change was the very broad southern European breaking up into smaller categories, mostly Iberian can now be separated from western European. So actual Iberian, I’m only 20%. Which is funny, since culturally that’s the one that won, what with my last name and how I grew up. (Yeah, we never talked about mom’s family, because she was an Okie!, which is funny since she’d never been to Oklahoma in her life, but if you weren’t Portuguese or Mexican in the San Joaquin Valley, you were considered an Okie).

The North African makes sense. Even on the last go around the note on the Iberians was that they were usually around 10% North African, but they didn’t have a clear break down of that yet.

The 1% European Jewish is interesting, since as far as we can tell that’s from the same branch of the family tree as the big Europe East, so they were genetically Polish but practicing Jews. Fascinating stuff.

I’ll be really curious to see what these results look like in a few years.


Sort of related, but my wife has started researching my family history. It is a Mormon thing, and hers is already done about as far back as can reasonably be achieved. She’s not had much luck on my dad’s side yet finding people, but surprisingly has on my mom’s. She’s discovered that one of my mom’s ancestors was named Lafayette Best, and I’m sorry, that’s like a really cool name, and I’m also descended from some Baldwins from Mississippi. I can only hope that means I’m related to Adam and not Alec. 🙂

Great Review of Shattered Shields
A really cool writing/music project, Foreshadows.

49 thoughts on “Ancestry's DNA database is absolutely fascinating”

    1. If more Americans were to get their DNA checked, then maybe we could get over that stupid Hypenated-American bullshit people are hung up on. Because it is really hard to say I’m a proud (insert 11 countries here)-American!

      1. I’m part Ukrainian, part Polish, part British, part who-the-heck-knows. It’s much easier for me to say: “I’m Canadian.”

      2. I seriously wish European-American was something people said. When pressed, I like to call myself Celtic, since I think that covers mostly what I am, and sure look it. Plus the Celts were pretty badass.

        I really want to take this test now. I didn’t know this existed.

      3. As with most progressive follies, it seems to start with the mutilation of language. Hyphenated-Americans ought to not be “bullshit”. After all, my mom is a Brazilian-American. She holds dual citizenship. The word usefully describes her.

        To paraphrase Niemoller: first they come for the language…

  1. There’s a town called Baldwyn, Mississippi not far from where my parents live. Maybe your ancestors founded it.

    I just checked Wikipedia, and apparently it was named after a civil engineer who surveyed a road through the town. I wonder if it’s called “Main Street”.

  2. There can be some cool stuff that can be dug up doing ancestry research. In the couple of years before my mom passed, she was trying to do a full workup as far back as she could go, and had me do historic research on individuals with interesting names. Some parts of the family were easy to trace back because it tied into British and Scottish nobility, and those trees are pretty well documented once you find and confirm a tie-in there. Dad’s side was harder to research, but it eventually ties back to one of the later Roman Emperors (forget which), Sigurðr ormr í auga (Sigurd “snake in the eye” – son of Ragnar Lodbrok), and a Crusader who married an Arab woman then joined the Templars and bought the farm at the Siege of Acre (the one where Richard I had the POWs executed).

    Ultimately, we found ties back to everywhere in Europe except Russia, a couple Balkans countries, and Spain; but those might be covered by the branch of the family we can’t really research because the records were destroyed in Sherman’s March.

    We had an idea of a lot of those connections for a long time based on oral family history and what family trees we already had from grandma. Sis made one of her elementary school teachers mad because they had make the country flag of their ancestors. Sis made an American flag, since that side’s been here since early colony days.
    Teacher: “Why didn’t you just pick the flag of your ancestors from then?”
    Mom: “Which of the 12 we know about is more important? Why is Ireland or Germany valid when they came over after WWII for some of the kids, but us being here since the 1500’s isn’t?”
    Teacher: “Uhhhh”

  3. I always think it would be fun to find out if I’m any Neanderthal. I doubt I’ve a whole lot of different regions since everyone I know of in my family tree is somewhat inbred Scandi, though it would be interesting to find out if Great-Grandma really was part French. She was “darker” and by “darker” we mean, had light brown hair that curled and about three melanin cells per square inch. Someone would say, it could be French blood, you know what those vikings got up to, and she’d insist that they did *not*. (I get the idea that bringing this up became entertainment of a sort.)

  4. “The 1% European Jewish is interesting, since as far as we can tell that’s from the same branch of the family tree as the big Europe East”

    I would have guessed Sephardi Jewish with your Iberic content.. hmmm

  5. Your critics would reply that your majority European DNA is oppressing your minory African and Jewish DNA. 😉

  6. My Jewish brother. I’ll have to teach you the secret hand signal so you can get discounts at Kosher delis. Only Gentiles pay full price.

  7. I’ll have to look into this when I get some money to spare. (Or perhaps give the testing as a gift to my parents, they’d find it just as fascinating, I’m sure.)

    It’d especially be interesting because my Mom’s side traces back to America by way of Ireland ~1650s, (They avoided becoming Okies only because they moved to Utah by way of Far West and Nauvoo)

    My Dad’s family, on the other hand, lived in Friesland in the Netherlands from around 800 AD until just after WWII (The municipality of Dongeradeel includes tiny villages called Anjum and Wierum, if you can believe it Anjewierden is the _short_ version of our last name) – yet we’ve found a couple family members in Australia and the Philippines. (Trust me, our last name, its 100% guaranteed anyone with it IS related to us, and not too distantly either)

    I am willing to be though that anyone whose family has been in the US for at least a few generations will basically fall into the ‘mutt’ category.

    1. I call bullshit on that article. Allowing law-abiding citizens to have access to firearms outside their home led to more people being raped? BS. Now, I can see an argument for more rapes and attempted rapes being reported. But the rest is just BS.

    2. I can imagine the convolutions of logic that study went through, probably something like this…law abiding people obtain a concealed carry license some are assaulted by would be murders, rapists, robbers who they are forced to shoot. Some of these law abiding folks are arrested and and charged thus increasing the crime rate, conveniently ignoring that they are later exonerated for having used legal self defense.

  8. i should see about doing this out of curiosity, what with being an adoptee and all. Best guess would be something north europeanish on account of being tall, burly (At a distance, folks don’t notice the “tall” part unless there’s something to give scale), and blue eyed.

  9. Cool information. I’ve been doing the thing about once a year for the past few years – depending on time and finances – for myself, my husband, and my daughter. Tell your wife to hang in there and not get too frustrated. It gets really hard when the tree jumps over to another continent.

  10. I have been really curious what my results would show for a while, because according to my mother, I am a bit native american on one side and by looking pictures of my great grandmother on the other side we have always wondered if she hopped off the trail of tears or something (but my grandmother kept telling us she was dutch – she doesn’t look at all dutch. We figure you just didn’t talk about these things in the 30s in mississippi)

  11. Of the 3 big ancestry testing firms in the US, Ancestry is the most recent. They don’t offer the same tools, for comparing with other people, and finding family, as do 23andMe or FamilyTreeDNA.

    I think all three offer a basic testing kit for $99. 23andme collects spit, FTDNA does a cheek swab. Regardless, you can pay to do specialized testing, like Y-Dna (testing your father and his father) or MT-Dna (testing your mother and her mother).

    I’d be cautious of those percentages. As their database grows, the genetic ancestry of the world becomes better know. It really is quite amazing.

    I’m 99.8% European White Male Oppressor. My privilege level is so low, I’d need a step-stool just to find the next level. But since some of those ancestors, should I be apply at London for reparations? 😀

    1. I’m not sure 23andMe is still selling kits in the US. For some bizarre reason, I can’t reach their site from work to check, but last I heard they were being f’ed over by Obamacare’s ‘medical device tax.’ Be more than happy to be proven wrong, though.

    2. You’re 99.8% male? Does that mean you’re .02% female or that only .02% of your ancestors were female? (And I’m pretty sure, genetic-history-speaking, white is synonymous with European.)

      Yes, I’m just being a smartass.

  12. I did a test on my kids because they wanted to know their genetic makeup. My oldest had seen Vikings and wanted to know how much nordic blood he had. I also found out that my kids had two half sisters from when my ex was a teen?! Careful… sometimes you shake the genetic tree and someone unexpected may fall out!

  13. Looks like “Portuguese, with a Ukrainian in the woodpile.”

    Your “ancestral homeland” was once part of the Roman Empire, and the triangular Italy-Iberia-North Africa trade route was the core of the Roman economy. Portugal later had considerable commerce with Europe, Africa, and the Far East all on its own.

  14. Makes me interested to try it. I know I figured out recently that my surname (Italian) was probably derived from a greek word, so probably a bit of of that in there. Also, as mishmash of a European (largely German). I’m sure everybody is a bit Scandinavian, what with the large scale viking rape and all.

  15. So what made you decide to use ancestry’s test as opposed to some of the competition?

    Also, if you have the option of downloading your raw genetic, you can use a site like Gedmatch to delve deeper.

  16. It’s that 2% of you that’s Italian which makes you such a top notch writer. Not that I’m partial in any way, paisan…. 😉
    Looking forward to more Monster Hunter books. I continue to wonder what the Harbinger is ‘harbinging.’

  17. Maybe if I ever get a spare 99$ and think to do this I will someday, seems really interesting. I am just going to guess right now that there will be some native American and pretty much a bit of everything European.

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