It’s All in The DNA

I wrote last week about receiving a recent Birthday gift of an Ancestry DNA Kit. I sent that in. You fill a tube with saliva and stabilize it by tightening a cap that automatically releases the solution that results in their lab processing your sample. Simple, quick.. Then wait to be amazed. That is magic.


AncestryDNA is a cutting edge DNA testing service that utilizes some of the latest autosomal testing technology to revolutionize the way you discover your family history. This service combines advanced DNA science with the world’s largest online family history resource to predict your genetic ethnicity and help you find new family connections. It maps ethnicity going back multiple generations.

The DNA test uses microarray-based autosomal DNA testing, which surveys a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 locations, all with a simple saliva sample. Additionally, the new online interface integrates state-of-the art tools for you to utilize your DNA results for family history research.

Your DNA results include information about your ethnicity across 26 regions/ethnicities and identifies potential relatives through DNA matching to others who have taken the AncestryDNA test. Your results are a great starting point for more family history research, ‪and it can also be a way to dig even deeper into the research you’ve already done.

More than a million people have taken the DNA test which includes millions of family trees and over 16 billion historical records.

Who are your family?

Your family tree may go back hundreds of years, but there could be more to your family’s story that’s just out of reach of paper documents and conventional research. DNA can reach back hundreds, maybe even a thousand years, to tell you things that aren’t in historical records—things you might have never known otherwise.

There are a few reasons why your ethnicity estimate may not be exactly what you expected: 1. Your genetic ethnicity may go back further than your family tree. 2. While your ancestors lived in a certain country, there may have been genetic influence from other places. 3. You don’t necessarily share common DNA with all of your ancestors.

Your unique DNA is a result of generations of contributions from your ancestors. You receive roughly 50% of your DNA from each of your parents, and they received 50% from their parents, and so on. The amount of DNA you received from your ancestors drops by 50% each time you go back another generation. Once you get past 5 or 6 generations of ancestors, you reach a point where your DNA consists of less than 1% of what any single ancestor passed down through the generations.

Even though about half of your DNA is inherited from your mother and half from your father, each half is variable and can result in many unique combinations. Since each parent may pass 0 to 50% of an ethnicity down to their children, when you factor that out over a few hundred years and several generations, you may share little or no DNA in common with a specific ancestor.

The past few thousand years were very dynamic and the constant historical movements and changes defined the people and places that we know around the world today. Because people move over time, (and when they do they take their DNA with them), a group may contribute DNA to other groups at different times. Because of this, ethnic groups can be defined by time and place—not just location. For example, if you have German or British ancestors in your family tree, it’s a possibility that your genetic ethnicity may be partly Scandinavian. The Viking invasions and conquests about a thousand years ago are likely responsible for occurrences of Scandinavian ethnicity throughout other regions. And there are similar examples for other ethnicities.

If you’re relying only on a tree you found online without doing your own research, then there are more serious flaws in your research than the DNA tree hints.

Indeed, even the most documented and sourced tree is likely wrong, although genealogists are loathe to admit this. NPEs (non-paternal events) happen, and many were either never publicized or were lost through time. Further, there are simply errors in most family trees that result from inaccurate source documents, or other sources. Ironically, it will eventually be the DNA that reveals the errors in our trees, even without documentation.

Apparently even the top companies that provide these amazing tests have controversial stories too, if you dig deep enough, but there is always controversy and opinions. That is a constant.

The point here, is that the possibilities are endless and just when we think we know it all, we find we know nothing or that what we think we know is all together only scratching the surface.

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