Ancestry Breaks Down Your Ethnicity by Parent

Recently Ancestry came up with a tool to show your bio-ancestry by parent without even having a parent tested! Now they have taken it a step further and added a chromosome painting which shows you which segments of your chromosomes have what origins. Not everyone has this yet and for those whose parents are primarily one ethnicity, it is not very useful. However the more mixed your heritage, the more interesting it is.

The Sideview circles for an Australian woman with a half chinese Dad  (click here for that blog post)

This feature is part of your DNA story so go there from your DNA menu at Ancestry. Once on that page, scroll down until you see a box on the right side titled Ethnicity Inheritance like the one in the image on the left here. Click anywhere in that box to get to the page that breaks it down by parent.

The Sideview technology, previously released and shown above, has two circles next to each other, where the left one shows the expected ancestry of each parent and the right circle shows your own.

For those of us whose parents are from different parts of the world, it is easy to tell which parent is Parent1 and which is Parent2. Plus Ancestry gives you the option to label them Maternal or Paternal. To do that, scroll down past the circles to the section titled Detailed Comparison, then click on the pencil next to the words Edit Parents as shown below (red arrow added by me). Next you get a little window which shows you half your inheritance and lets you designate which parent it is from. As my Dad is 100% Norwegian-American and my mother a Bavarian and Jewish mix, this was easy for me to do.


Since my father is tested at 23andme, I decided to compare that result to the prediction from Ancestry. Both Ancestry and 23andme predict a little bit of Finnish in addition to the 98% Norwegian. Only Ancestry finds a bit of Irish which is likely backwards; those Irish matches more likely have some Norwegian. No sliver of Irish is found in my brothers’ results. Remember, as improved as these results are at Ancestry, unlike close relationship predictions, they are still not accurate science.

My circles of Ancestry Composition, note that I have designated which parent is which

If you have elected to Beta test new features (under Extras > Ancestry Lab), then you will also have the chromosome browser painting of the ethnicity. Although this feature looks to be slowly rolled out to everyone.

There is a tab at the top of the Ethnicities Inheritance page that lets you click over to the Chromosome Painter or you can click on those words from the initial box on the DNA story page.

Person with a mother from Puerto Rico and and mixed father from Mississippi

Look how colorful the browser can be if you are very mixed! Notice that you can look at the results from both parents or just one parent using the tabs above the painting. However it is hard to tell from the very small dots which color is which ancestry. Thankfully you can click on any one ethnicity to see which segments it corresponds to. Personally I was hoping this feature might help me figure out which line of ancestors the Finnish comes from.  23andme has long had a feature which paints your bio-ancestry and you can even download the segment data. It shows my Dad with a Finnish segment on each of chromosomes 4 and 10, and my brother with the one on 10 while I got the segment on 4. Ancestry shows me with both 4 and 10, hmmm.

My explorations show that my Wold line relatives have Finnish, but not the same segments. And some of my Skjold line relatives have Irish which I am dubious about as they are Norwegian going way back on paper. When percentages are that small, they are not necessarily accurate in my opinion.

The Finnish segments that my Dad’s Wold 2nd cousin has at Ancestry

DNApainter has come out with a tool which will give you the segment boundaries from a cut and paste of the Ancestry chromosome browser page (Click here for the blog post).

Click here for the Ancestry article explaining the painter


9 thoughts on “Ancestry Breaks Down Your Ethnicity by Parent

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  1. Miss Kitty, Question for you. I gave a DNA kit to a Turkish friend and he was very surprised at his mixed heritage. In particular he was surprised by a 11% Sephardic Northern Africa connection and a similar amount from Sicily. My Heritage has maintained those connections continuously, but somehow Ancestry does not report the Sephardic or Southern Italy connection. The new product reports an obvious Cyprus connection (home of one of his grandfathers) but neither of the above. Has Ancestry removed the filter for Jewish heritage and now only reports geographic locations? The Sicily connection seems to be confirmed by multiple DNA cousins with origins in Sicily. That is also true for a bunch of cousins who have significant Sephardic ancestry. Thanks for all of your work. Bill

    • William –
      Figuring out bio-ancestry is not yet a mature science and each company has slightly different reference populations thus give different break downs. Looking at who you match makes much more sense in a case like this.
      I have been told that Ancestry tends to report Sephardic as nonJewish but I cannot confirm that. Try asking in the Tracing The Tribe group on FaceBook.

  2. This Ancestry segment-origin by parent is really great. To attribute the segments to origin is very valuable… I will send copies of results to those whos kits I manage.

  3. I look forward to Ancestry further improving/refining this feature. When it came out I contacted my 3rd cousin to compare ethnicities of our shared segments that we previously identified in GedMatch. Not only did Ancestry not show these shared segments, they painted my whole chromosome one ethnicity, and his a completely different ethnicity.

  4. Will this be good for adoptees who are having a lot of cross overs? A DNA Angel is working with her and finds it difficult.

    • Vee, it would depend on the ethnicities involved. It could be useful when the parents have very different bio-ancestries

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