Wednesday, September 12, 2018

AncestryDNA Updates Ethnicity Results

As reported today by AncestryDNA, they have made a significant update to their ethnicity results, providing more precise results across Asia and Europe. Users will see changes to their ethnicity percentages and new regions (as some of their regions have been redefined).

My AncestryDNA ethnicity estimates, which haven't shown an update for me in five years, still reflect 100% European, but have been refined.

Ancestry reports that as they've gotten more data (i.e. 16,000 reference samples where previously they had 3,000), they have improved their ability to distinguish between regions, especially for regions which are closely related and have similar genetic makeup such as Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Northwestern Europe (well, that's just about all my ethnic makeup right there). This is their explanation as to why I now show no Scandinavian DNA.

My original results (April 2012) looked like the following:

About a year and a half later (October 2013), they looked like this:

By last spring, they referred to "Low Confidence Regions" instead of "Trace Regions." The percentages hadn't changed:

As of today, my ethnicity estimate is still just about all European, just rearranged:

It makes much better sense to me that Ireland and Scotland are now 36%, since I know that many of my maternal grandmother's ancestors, as well as James McAlpin on my father's side, originally came from Scotland. There are also a few ancestors who likely came from Ireland, but since my ancestors have been in America for so many generations (many colonial New England who came from England), it's too difficult for me to say for certain what percentage my different ethnicities should be.

Graphically, you can see the changes in the maps below:

Elizabeth's ethnicity map from 2013

Elizabeth's revised ethnicity map from September 2018

As a whole, it's not dramatically different, and you can see the overlap of the regions indicating that these are estimates, not definite percentages. Although the science is changing very quickly (this couldn't have been imagined 15 or 20 years ago), I am not expecting DNA to break down my Irish / Scottish / English / Welsh / North European ethnicity to specific locations, especially after my ancestors of so many generations (5-12) have been in America.

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