DNA ETHNICITY ESTIMATES FOR ETHNICALLY AMBIGUOUS PEOPLE
Warning ! This review on DNA ethnicity estimates is not sponsored or paid by any DNA lab of any sort and the ideas and opinions attached to this review are purely my own, based on my personal observations.
DNA testing for ethnicity estimates has become more and more popular these last years especially outside of Europe.
Some serious genealogists mainly use these tests to find close or distant relatives or to trace back their Y line (paternal line) or mitochondrial line (maternal line) very far back in time.
But most of the time it is also DNA ethnicity estimates that drive millions of people to test their DNA. DNA ethnicity estimates showing percentages of each ethnicity on a colored world map with regions and countries circled is the most popular selling point for these DNA testing kits right now.
In the United States and Canada and now in Brazil too people are eagerly expecting their ethnicity estimates to know more about their origins especially when they don't know much about them.
It is rather easy for DNA labs to do this for people with just two to four different ethnicities but it is becoming a real challenge (and sometimes a total mess) for all those other people with a lot of admixture who have MORE ethnicities in their DNA.
People with a lot of admixture are thus called "ethnically ambiguous" people because of their rainbow-colored DNA chromosome segments that make it difficult to classify them in one or two or four specific country gene pools. On a world region level their ethnicity estimates are rather consistent but on a country level it's a hard guess and sometimes just a guess.
You should also know that your ethnicity estimates may vary from one lab to another because not all DNA labs use the same testing chips or have the same amount of people in their databases to compare you with or just don't test the same regions (SNPs) on your chromosomes.
You should also be aware that with time these ethnicity estimates may change and they regularly do. Some labs will tell you that your DNA does not change but that it is just that their DNA ethnicity result interpretation that is becoming more "accurate" because they are adding more regions or just have more samples of people of each region. Many of the people tested get mad when they check their ethnicity results have completely changed or look really "off" until another update is released and they are then "happier" again or "disappointed" again and so on.
So, should you trust this "ethnicity results" option in DNA testing right now or should you just take them with a "pinch of salt" ? Well, it depends on what you are expecting to discover ...
If you really don't know anything about your family background because you were adopted for example it can be of some use. On a world-regional scale if you are curious to know where you are from ethnicity estimates will give you that anyway.
But what if ...you already have your family history told in a paper trail ?
Will DNA testing for ethnicity give you more ? or less ? or will it be even more confusing ?
Ethnicity estimates won't necessarily match your paper trail but will in many cases too.
And what if ... you know you have ancestors from many different parts of the world, like more than four different distinct regions ...Will your DNA ethnicity estimates come out the same way or not ?
And finally, if on top of many regions of the world you also have European settlers coming from different European countries at different periods of time, which one(s) is / are the most relevant ?
Why don't different tests show the same countries in a consistent way all the time ?
For "ethnically ambiguous" people the answer to the question " Where am I actually from ?" is a really tough one because the truth may not be in just one test or one ethnicity estimate but in more ... And this is very well shown in the specific example of the person tested here (whose name will be kept anonymous for privacy concerns but who totally agrees with this ethnicity estimates display).
I will just focus today on his / her European background which ranges between 66% to 70% European according to different test labs' results. The other ethnicities belong to different areas of the world : Africa, Asia and South East Asia.
Before showing you how these ethnicity estimates are displayed let me tell you that 12 different tests have been taken to study his / her European ethnicity.
And let me give you some quick facts about his / her known ancestry from his / her paper trail.
There are many same ancestors both on father's and mother's sides and some of them coming back several times in different lines, so yes ...we call this endogamy.
Ancestry from the paper trail shows :
- Many identified French ancestors.
- A few identified Portuguese ancestors.
- A few identified Spanish ancestors.
- A few identified Flemish and Dutch ancestors.
- At least 3 identified English and 1 Scottish ancestors.
- At least 2 identified Italian ancestors.
- At least 1 German ancestor.
- At least 1 nobility line traced back with all kinds of European ancestors.
- A few unknown father lines
And that's it ! for the known paper trail but that's not all ... Wait and see ...
What you are about to check next is even more puzzling ...
European DNA admixture estimates according to Gedmatch calculators
These calculators give estimates on a regional scale.
K13 calculator for 13 main regions and K15 calculator for 15 main regions have been used.
European DNA admixture estimates according to GenePlaza calculators
European DNA admixture estimates according to Ethno Gene
European DNA admixture estimates according to GPS Ancestry
24Genetics European admixture DNA estimates
24Genetics is a European lab, a Spanish one, if I'm not mistaken.
Magic trick here ? This person has more than 20% Spanish DNA and just 0.05 % Portuguese DNA ?
Is that a joke ? Undoubtedly, part of this DNA matches their region (Spain) ... but Iberian DNA can be found both in Spain and Portugal ...
AND NOW ...
THE THREE BIG AMERICAN DNA TESTING COMPANIES,
THE BRITISH COMPANY LIVING DNA & MYHERITAGE COMPANY
AND THEIR COUNTRY ETHNICITY ESTIMATES
23& ME European admixture DNA estimates (before update)