Soon after I replied that I was interested and paid the $9.95 shipping, I received a package with three special cotton swabs which I used to scrape the inside of my cheek. I let them air dry, then inserted them into the packaging provided and returned them to AncestryDNA. I then waited...
Last week, I finally received an email notifying me that my results were in.
Autosomal DNA testing is a general DNA test that tells me what my genetic ethnicity (or genetic background) is. The test takes segments of my DNA and compares it to samples from a DNA ethnicity database with other samples from people with known ancestry in specific regions in the world.
Genetic ethnicity results go back hundreds of years, farther back than just about all of my genealogical research. (And I've researched some lines back to the 1500's.)
The following is what I see when I click on the AncestryDNA link when I'm logged into Ancestry.com.
|My genetic ethnicity (according to AncestryDNA results)|
AncestryDNA does note that the percentages are accurate plus or minus a few percentage points. The Uncertain percentage includes ethnic regions with too little information for them to confidently predict.
The 78% British Isles ethnicity doesn't surprise me. In the lines where I am able to trace ancestors back to their immigration to America, a good majority come from England, Scotland and Ireland. What I find interesting is the 16% Scandinavian ancestry. I don't have any specific knowledge of ancestors from Norway, Sweden or Denmark. AncestryDNA's website notes that ethnic groups are not static, meaning that people move all the time and a group may contribute DNA to another group at certain times in history. I suppose if I could trace my ancestry back far enough, I would find Vikings from Scandinavian countries who invaded the British Isles and settled there, raising families with those of British genes.
As young children, my brothers and I were quite tow-headed, with blond hair that turned very pale blond in the summer sun, so possibly that's from our Scandinavian genes.
However, I am especially surprised that there is no indication of European ancestry, as the family story is that the Lysles (my maternal ancestry) were originally from France. I am also pretty sure of some Netherlands ancestry (on both sides of my family) and in AncestryDNA's map, Netherlands is European, not Scandinavian. Perhaps the 6% Uncertain ethnicity is European. As this is the BETA testing phase, I provided feedback to AncestryDNA noting this.
The Pedigree and Surnames tab shows a 7-generation tree and a list of those surnames of the ancestry.com member I have selected (assuming this member has linked his or her tree to their DNA results). I have one "match" listed who is predicted to be a 4th to 6th cousin. This person's ethnic ancestry indicates 50% Central European, 45% Scandinavian and 5% Uncertain. I am able to view her family tree in ancestry.com and have found a common 10th great grandfather, which would make us 10th cousins. I don't see any familiar surnames in the first 4-6 generations, so I'm not sure how we might be related closer than 10th cousins.
The Map and Locations tab shows a map with icons showing birth locations for direct ancestors from my tree, birth locations for direct ancestors in the match's tree, and, in a different color, common birth locations where we both have direct ancestors. Of course, many of mine are in America, but I also have records for births in England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Zooming in on this map shows more close-up detail of common city and town birth locations.
Below this one 4th to 6th cousin are additional ancestry.com subscribers who are considered possible "distant cousins." The website indicates that "Distant cousin matches (5th cousins or greater) are less sure than 3rd or 4th cousins. These matches are still good leads, but there is a low degree of certainty (50% or less) that you are related." There are 12 which have a 50% certainty of being 5th - 8th cousin, and many more with a 20% or 10% certainty of being 5th - 8th cousins.
I also want to share what AncestryDNA writes on the first page you view:
"You can imagine how complicated it is to determine a person's ethnicity based only on a handful of cheek cells. We have a top team of scientists on the job, but as with anything new, there's always room for improvement. And our ability to determine your ethnicity and predict matches will only get better over time. During this special beta period we are sharing early results, gathering feedback, and making adjustments prior to our formal launch to the public. We don't anticipate any big changes—mostly small ones to better your experience. We expect over time to deliver even more granular results (including regions within a specific country) as we get more data. So if your early results seem way off-base please let us know."As Ancestry.com continues to work on its DNA testing, I'm sure we'll hear more about it and how it's connecting family history researchers online.
October 2013: Ancestry.com updated their analysis and I shared it at AncestryDNA Updates Ethnicity Results.