By no means am I an expert in genetic genealogy, but very simplistically, there are three general tests that a person can do, depending on what he or she wants to learn about (and depending on how much money that person is willing or able to spend). There is mtDNA (maternal) testing, which traces a person's (either male or female) maternal ancestors (mother's mother's mother, etc.) and lets that person know what his or her maternal origins are 20,000 to 100,000 years ago. There's also Y-DNA testing, which only men can take, which traces a man's father's father's father's line, which can be used for surname studies for men trying to confirm if they descend from the same man (assuming the surname has remained the same over the years).
And there's autosomal DNA testing, which is a test that provides a breakdown of one's ethnic percentages, to find out where all your ancestors may have come from; you just don't know which ancestors make up which pieces of the pie. It's this last type of testing that AncestryDNA has been promoting recently. With a couple million users and online family trees, this is another way to help people try to find common ancestors on their trees and discover second, third or fourth (or even more distant) cousins.
After I had my autosomal DNA tested last winter during its beta test phase (and reported about it here), Ancestry.com made its autosomal DNA test publicly available, though it still appears to be in beta. I had my husband take it and his results came in a couple of weeks ago. If you've been following my blog, you'll see that I've traced his ancestry back to Hungary (paternal grandparents), Romania (maternal grandfather), Shytomir / Zhitomir, Ukraine (maternal great grandmother), and Poland/Austria/Russia, depending on the source (maternal great grandfather).
So we were somewhat surprised when the results came in and we saw the following:
|Husband's genetic ethnicity (according to AncestryDNA results)|
After clicking on See Full Results, a message appears that lets me know that the genetic ethnicity prediction may not look quite right, with some ethnicities under or over-represented. AncestryDNA is expecting that their prediction models will evolve and improve over time and from what I understand, these percentages can change as more results become available. The percentages are accurate plus or minus a few percentage points and the "Uncertain" label includes ethnic regions with too little information for them to confidently predict.
13% British Isles ancestry (which includes England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales) was NOT expected. I'm wary to even venture a public guess as to where this is from. However, the percentage would imply that one of his great grandparents was from the British Isles...
At the bottom of the European Jewish tab is a (somewhat) helpful note under the heading: "Are you surprised by the number of matches?" with a brief explanation noting that
"it appears our system returns inaccurate matches for people of European Jewish descent. The good news is that our match predictions will improve over time as we grow our database of DNA signatures."I look forward to improved match predictions within AncestryDNA. From what I've read about DNA testing for those with Jewish ancestry, Family Tree DNA and 23andMe have more participants with Jewish ancestry and are more likely to provide accurate matches to possible cousins among the participants. Now I just need to decide if I want to spend the money to have my husband tested with one of those services.