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  • Competing DNA Results

    In 2004, Family Tree reported my ancestry as 87% European, 13% Native American. Recently a 1st cousin was tested with no Native American ancestry, which led me to retest, this time with Ancestry. They indicated that I was 68% Great Britain, 20% Scandinavian, and 7% Iberian Peninsula.

    So I have no idea how these results could be so different, or which is more reliable.

    Any thoughts on how to proceed from here?

  • #2
    The whole ethnic origins thing comes with some big but unknown amount of uncertainty. Methodologies and "reference groups" have changed over the years, but it is extremely difficult to show that any particular algorithm is objectively better than the others. For me, what matters most is traditional genealogy, informed by your autosomal DNA matches (Family Finder test, for example, and even then, it's the close matches that are most useful.)

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    • #3
      Originally posted by rgknight7 View Post
      In 2004, Family Tree reported my ancestry as 87% European, 13% Native American. Recently a 1st cousin was tested with no Native American ancestry, which led me to retest, this time with Ancestry. They indicated that I was 68% Great Britain, 20% Scandinavian, and 7% Iberian Peninsula.

      So I have no idea how these results could be so different, or which is more reliable.

      Any thoughts on how to proceed from here?
      Family Tree DNA didn't start giving ethnicity breakdowns until 2010 when Family Finder began. So where did you get these results back in 2004?

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      • #4
        rgknight7:
        After FTDNA introduced their Population Finder (2010 as travers noted), they later introduced myOrigins in about May 2014. Three years later, it was updated when myOrigins 2.0 was introduced in about April 2017. With each version, it has been refined regarding reference populations and algorithms used to give the ethnicity estimates.

        Perhaps you made a typographical error, and meant 2014 for your ethnicity estimate from FTDNA. Did you test at Ancestry.com soon after that, or more recently? Ancestry also updates their ethnicity estimates from time to time.

        In addition to travers' question about where you got an ethnicity breakdown in 2004: if you have Family Finder results, what is the current breakdown with myOrigins 2.0? Did it change from your earlier myOrigins (or possibly pre-2014 Population Finder) results at FTDNA?

        Secondly, to address the possible original 13% Native American prediction:
        Do you actually have known Native American ancestry, and if so, how many generations ago was the NA ancestor? According to the Autosomal DNA Statistics chart at ISOGG, a first cousin should share ON AVERAGE about 12.5% autosomal DNA, with an average of 850 total cM shared. The other chart on the ISOGG page is from Blaine Bettinger's Shared cM Project, v. 3.0, and shows for a first cousin a range of 553-1225 average total cM shared. My point is, if you do indeed have a known NA ancestor, then depending upon how far back, a first cousin (or you) may or may not have inherited any segments from that ancestor.

        Roberta Estes' blog post, "Concepts - Percentage of Ancestors DNA", explains why we don't always inherit DNA from an ancestor.

        Always keep in mind that ethnicity predictions, from whichever company, are only truly accurate at the continental level. They are not an exact science. Your Family Finder match list is a more reliable indicator as to what population groups you are related.

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        • #5
          Different ethnicity estimators put me all over the map. Most get me as mostly British and some Scandinavian but none of them say anything about Germany or Central Europe. Some have a Mideastern component. Others claim Southeast Europe (Italy & Greece). Some add a component of Ashkenazi. This bothered me, until I learned that ethnicity estimators do well if they just get you in the right continent.

          It is a little perplexing that one would say you have Native American ancestry, while the other does not. But I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep over it. The science of ethnicity estimators just isn't as good as some people want you to believe.

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