Archive | October 2020

Comparing Ethnicity Estimates Across Companies

Both Ancestry and FamilyTreeDNA have recently updated their ethnicity results. As much fun as it is to look at your ancestry composition, those estimates do not really reflect the populations of today’s countries, but rather human migrations hundreds of years in the past. Therefore the big picture is more accurate than the smaller areas. Examples that I have found to be realistic are North versus South Europe or East versus West versus South Asia.

To the left is a simple pie chart showing the known ancestry for my brother and myself for the last 300 years or so. Our father was Norwegian American, documented back to the 1600s, and our mother was born in Munich to a Jewish father and German (Bavarian) mother. In 2016 I wrote a blog post showing how my brother’s ethnicity appeared at a number of DNA companies and third party sites (click here for that post). This post will look again at the ethnicity predictions for each of us from the main testing companies.

One thing I always find interesting is that they all show my brother Shipley with less DNA from our Jewish grandfather than I have. The variations between full siblings can be quite large.

Let’s look at the new Family Tree DNA results first:

My Origins at Family Tree DNA for my brother and myself

Nice and simple but not very accurate. We have no British ancestors in the last 500 years that we know of. However there is no such thing as German DNA because that area was a crossroads. It usually shows up as French, Scandinavian, British, or even Eastern European. Jewish DNA is quite distinct due to centuries of endogamy. Interestingly, our Jewish never comes out at the expected 25%. All the companies show me with more than that and my brother with less. Although you inherit half of your DNA from each parent, they do not have to pass you an equal amount from each of their parents.

Here are our results at MyHeritage:

Our ethnicity predictions at MyHeritage

MyHeritage is an excellent site for working with your DNA since it includes a chromosome browser that shows triangulations and it also looks through user trees to try and figure out your relationships to your DNA cousins. However, although their ethnicity estimates have improved over time, like Family Tree DNA, they incorrecty find lots of British Isles DNA for us. They call it Irish, Scottish, and Welsh. The Jewish component is only few percentage points different from Family Tree DNA.

Frankly I find the estimates at 23andme and Ancestry more accurate.

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Genetic Genealogy News Round Up

2020 has been a horrible year so far, in more ways than I can count. However, one good thing is that more of us are staying at home working on our family history and using DNA tools to help with that. Here is my summary of the latest genetic genealogy news for you, both the good and the bad. First the good…

MyHeritage did a new run of their Theory of Family Relativity so go look if you have any new connections with theories. Unlike Ancestry which seems to run theirs almost every night, MyHeritage only runs it every few months but it is more detailed. Click here for my blog post about this feature.

Family Tree DNA updated their ancestry composition estimates to version 3 which includes 66 new reference populations. Click here for the blog post Roberta Estes wrote about it. I will write a post soon that compares results at all the companies for my brother like I did six years ago (click here). For my extended family, version 3 is not an improvement, although I like the new Magyar population predicted for us which fits into my 25% Bavarian ancestry.

My new ethnicities at family Tree DNA. My father was Norwegian and my mother German (half Jewish). No British.

According to a FaceBook post in the GEDmatch user group, Verogen announced a number of GEDmatch improvements coming in Q4 at the ISHI (International Symposium on Human Identification) conference including enhanced security for GEDmatch and a modernized User interface.

Ancestry also moved that wonderful new Longest segment feature (click for my blog post about it) and at first I could not find it. An appeal to the hive mind at FaceBook resolved my problem. As shown in the image below, you have to click the amount of shared DNA in blue to see that and another new feature, the “Unweighted shared DNA. That is the amount of matching DNA before their algorithm removes the DNA assumed to just be from your particular population group. That algorithm has vastly improved my Jewish side matches, as it would for anyone with endogamy in their tree.

My known third cousin who shares Jewish great great grandparents with me

Now for the bad news.
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