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)|