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  • Ethnicity test help needed!

    Hi,
    I have just found this forum, and I'm wondering if anyone out there could help me?
    I am trying to trace my American Grandfather (I'm from UK) who my mother never knew. The chances of finding him and his family are slim, so we would like to try and find out about where his family came from.
    My mother doesn't look "British" more Mediterranean or possibly part Native American. I have been told there is an ethnicity test that can be done to determine whether someone is from a particular ethnic group, and even in the case of Caucasians, which part of Europe they came from.
    Does anyone know any companies that perform this test? I wasn't sure whether this company does, as I don't know the name of the test, so apologies if I appear a bit thick asking that!
    Also how reliable are these tests? For example, if my Grandfathers Grandparents are to blame for my mothers' features, would they be detected that far back?
    Any information would be gratefully recieved.
    Thanks.

  • #2
    The test your thinking of is offered by www.ancestrybydna.com

    The "EuroDNA" test costs about $400. If you don't have enough European % to do the test, theyll refund about $200 (leaving you with the cost of the cruder ancestrybydna test that looks at % of european, african etc.).

    There's been a bunch of discussion this group about how good (or not) the test is. I think it gets a worse rap than it desrves. Some of the confusion comes about because of the 4 categories that's used for the european classification. If one reads it careful though, it can be interpreted sensibly. I forget off the top of my head what the categories are, but people mistakenly think if it says 20% Category X (e.g. middle eastern) that that implies the person is 20% x. That's not a correct conclusion. You need to read carefully which regions of origin would lead to category x. The problem is because there are only 4 categories, an do f course many more european locales that that. so it's more looking for the pattern.

    but isn't there a paper trail for finding out about your mother's father? there are so many on-line data bases for the US. Do you now his last name? his first name? I think you imply he is alive. Birth certificate? on-line search for un-listed phone numbers and addresses? Odds of finding him are high. Is it a common surname or an unusual one?

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    • #3
      Scan the threads; do a word search on google; check the bona fides of these companies. Many many people report significant problems.

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      • #4
        There is another "ethnicity test," see - www.dnatribes.com - that assays the 13/26 STR markers that form the basis of CODIS, the forensics standard (in US). Also - www.ethnoancestry.com - has promised a release of a 100 STR biogeographical ancestry test this year.

        One might choose DNATribes because CODIS is an open and evolving standard, whereas DNAPrint's ABDNA/EURO tests are proprietary.

        In all instances, it is best to test the person nearest in relationship and age to the ancestor/ancestry in which you are interested as all these tests are autosomal - sample genetic material that is subject to recombination.

        I have taken the DNAP ABDNA 2.5 and the DNAT test and have been satisfied with results of both, although I always want to know more!

        Tom

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        • #5
          Hi,
          Thanks for all that help! In response to penguins question of how much do we know...well we only have a first name and surname..no D.O.B. location, or anything, but I am working on that!
          I would get my mother to take the test considering she is direct descendant, but am I right in thinking the markers can skip generations?
          Also does anyone know if it is possible for someone of Native American or meditteranean descent to have a grandchild with blue eyes? (i.e. me!) I thought dark brown/black eyes would dominate future generations' eye colour?
          I have tried to contact ancestrybyDNA in the past via email, and got no response which made me question whether they were still active?
          I will certainly scan these threads and make a decision..it's just hard to decide what's best for your money!
          Thanks again for all your help

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          • #6
            Originally posted by burto
            I would get my mother to take the test considering she is direct descendant, but am I right in thinking the markers can skip generations?
            DNA does not skip generations, but if you are tracking a male ancestor you need to test a direct male descendant of that man (e.g. your mother's brother). Only men carry Y-DNA, and any females in the chain of ancestry will break the Y-DNA chain.

            Originally posted by burto
            Also does anyone know if it is possible for someone of Native American or meditteranean descent to have a grandchild with blue eyes? (i.e. me!)
            Sure, it's very possible.
            Last edited by vineviz; 27 March 2006, 10:29 AM.

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            • #7
              I see. That's interesting about the eyes ! I've definately got them from my paternal Grandfather, but just wondered if it was possible for that recessive gene to come through, and obviously it is!
              But could we still do the AncestrybyDNA ethnicity test to find out about my maternal Grandfathers' ethnic origins?
              I have searched for him for six years now, and my mother has no brothers by him that we know of, so we can't do a Y test
              I've done her family tree down her maternal line to about 1700 which confirms she is 50% English, so presumably anything else that showed up could be attributed to her fathers' side?
              After reading some of the threads I'm starting to have a few doubts....

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              • #8
                Originally posted by burto
                But could we still do the AncestrybyDNA ethnicity test to find out about my maternal Grandfathers' ethnic origins?
                Theoretically, but I doubt it will tell you enough to be useful. The percentages they report are estimates, and noisy ones at that.

                In other words, even if you could test your grandfather directly the results would be rough estimates and you are two generations removed. Testing your mom would be much better, and also testing her mother would be even better. Still, this is all very inexact.

                Say your grandfather's true heritage was 25% Native American, 25% African, and 50% Asian. Say your grandmother was 100% European.

                Your Mom could have received anywhere from 0% to 100% of the DNA that AncestrybyDNA tests from her father. If she received nothing from him, her test could show her DNA as 100% "European". One would presume that her father was European, but that would not be the case.

                Even if she got 50% of her DNA from him, she might be missing the "Asian" DNA entirely. Or maybe she got 25% of her DNA from him, but it is all "African".

                In short, there is no reliable way to predict the heritage of your grandfather without testing his DNA directly. Testing your Mom would be better than testing you. Testing all of her living relatives might start to put a picture into focus, but that would be tremendous project that would still leave you with nothing more than a guess at the end.

                I suppose you have nothing to lose but time and money by trying, as long as you realize the uncertain nature of what you will learn. The fact that testing companies put percentages on their results makes them look much more accurate than they really are.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for that. My grandmother died in the 60's so there's no chance of taking a sample from her.
                  What about if I did a test to check my maternal line and the origins of that?
                  Would that eliminate any results given from an ethnicity test? (although I understand what you're saying about 0% to 100% showing on the test)
                  I guess I've got this far and not found out anything about him, and now science can't help either!
                  I don't suppose even physical features could point me in some direction?
                  (hehe getting desperate now!)

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                  • #10
                    A real dilemma!

                    It seems as if you have no choices except to remain blissfully ignorant about your grandfather's heritage or being uncertain about it. Ignorant is free and uncertain costs money, but only you can decide which is preferable

                    Certainly, the more you know about your Mom's family the better able you will be to interpret any DNA results you get.

                    Good luck!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by burto
                      Hi,
                      Also does anyone know if it is possible for someone of Native American or meditteranean descent to have a grandchild with blue eyes? (i.e. me!) I thought dark brown/black eyes would dominate future generations' eye colour?
                      I am a dark-haired, brown eyed, olive skinned person of Mediterranean ancestry and I have a very fair skinned, blonde child with green eyes. It's possible.

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                      • #12
                        There's something about trying to find info on your mother's father that's very compelling. I've found relatives where I also started from scratch, so there's lots of hope (my father was orphaned at age 13, and he took off when I was young, so no info on my fathers side at all, except his name. managed to dig up exensive trees through various detective work over the last 5 years. If you want to give any more info, I'd be happy to let you know if anything strikes me as a good clue.

                        a first name and a last name is a pretty good start! how common a last name is it? iif it's very common, it may be a little harder, but not impossible. Also, if he skipped out after your mother was born, his age would be on your mother's birth certificate. (if before, then perhaps it just says father unknown,or just gives his name). What was his citizenship? was it always american, or did he change it at some point? (If the latter, you can find citizenship papers). did he serve in the military at any point? (military records).

                        Yes on blue eyes, but you have gotten them from both sides of the family not just your father father.
                        To get blue eyes, you need one Blue from your mother, and one Blue from your father. If both your parents have brown eyes than both carry one blue and one brown (that's because you have blue eyes. if you had brown, thered be no way to know until you had kids if they had blue brown genes, or just brown brown genes. You got the blue one from each. Your odds of having blue eyes was 25%, and same goes for any of your siblings. Your mother could have gotten hers from her mother's genes (if e.g. your convinced your mother's father would have brown, brown (2 brown) genes). Even if your mother's mother had brown eyes, she could have had one blue and one brown. Her (mothers mother) eye color would be brown, but your mother could have inherited the blue one of her brown, blue genes. Certainly quite likely if mother's mothers side is english.

                        On genetics, check the y database from familytree dna (www.ysearch.org, I think),and see if anyone with your fathers last name is there (or if there's a surname project for his name.

                        keep us posted...
                        Last edited by penguin; 27 March 2006, 06:24 PM.

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