A couple of months ago, I wrote about how Vivian had ordered these AncestryDNA kits, along with some thoughts on how “family history” and heritage is based on far more important things than DNA, anyway. Nonetheless, we completed the kits and sent them off, and today we got our results back. If you want to skip all the ancestry stuff and just read about my quirky genetic traits, like whether I like coriander, I gotchu, fam 😛
Vivian, I think, is a bit disappointed with his results. His headline figures were 72% South Indian (70–95% range), 28% North Indian (0–44% range), and they also assigned him to some “Indians in Fiji and the Caribbean” community (when actually his ancestors lived in South Africa). I think he was hoping for a little more detail than just that. There were also no juicy secret relatives uncovered through the process, just third and fourth cousins – I think he was really hoping for something he could gossip about 😛
As for me, my results are in a small way surprising (mainly just the headline figures) but mostly not at all. If you had asked me before I got these results back what the make-up of my DNA was, given I know who all my great-great-grandparents were and a large number of their forebears as well, I would have guessed:
- 50% English/Welsh combined (mostly English, but a chunk of my mum’s ancestry is people who lived in the borderlands, so I don’t want to disentangle these)
- 25% Irish
- 15% Scottish
- 6% German
- 4% everything else put together (mostly French, Spanish, Sephardic Jewish)
The results I actually got were:
- 40% Scottish (8–40% range)
- 32% Irish – specifically from Munster (which I did know) (11–40% range)
- 23% English + northwestern Europe (i.e. northern French, Belgian) (22–50% range)
- 4% Germanic (0–24% range)
- 1% Swedish/Danish (0–9% range)
I also got assigned to a couple of communities, namely “North Munster” (I am somewhat amused they can be so specific when on the other hand SOUTH INDIAN is all just one thing) and “Victoria, Australia, European & British Settlers” (seems to be peeps like me whose ancestors were here pre-Federation).
My “surprise” is basically that I think AncestryDNA made a mistake assuming that my Scottish ancestry must be literally the highest possible percentage in the range that it could have been, and that my English/French ancestry combined must be almost as low as it possibly could have been. I’m also not aware of any Swedish or Danish ancestors, but given it’s only 1%, I’m inclined to consider that an artifact of the Danelaw, or maybe Scandinavians moving to Germany some time before my German ancestor moved here. Anyway, if you look more at the ranges than the headline figures it’s all basically what I expected. Except the Spanish people disappeared, haha.
The website does itself have a couple of pages explaining some potential quirks. Like it has a page specifically for people surprised that their “Scottish” result is so high, where they explain that even ordinary English-ethnicity people in England have on average 20% “Scottish” DNA. Another page explains the fairly obvious point that while you inherit 50% of your DNA from each parent, what parts of your parents’ DNA you get is random, so it’s not like you get an even 25% of DNA from each grandparent (or 12.5% from each great-grandparent, etc.). So, especially for parts of your DNA that make up only small components, they may not show up in your results at all. While conversely, it’s also possible that of the DNA I inherited from each of my parents, it was somehow weighted really really heavily in favour of their “Scottish” DNA and really against their “English” DNA.
- I have at least three separate genes linked to elite athletic performance, which is just hilarious to my disabled self.
- Based on my DNA, I probably have fair hair! (…I don’t.)
- My hair is also probably of average thickness and naturally wavy! (More accurate… I would have called it thick, personally, but to be fair it’s only really thick on one half of my head? What’s the genetics for that??)
- My DNA suggests I have light-coloured eyes and freckles! (These I do.)
- I probably have a “light to medium complexion”! (If by that you mean “so goddamn pale that the sun reflecting off my inner arms blinds people in summer”, then yes!)
- I, or my close male relatives, have probably not gone bald! (Speaking for my close male relatives: ahahahaha, nooooooo.)
- Based on my DNA, my piss probably doesn’t smell funny to me after I’ve eaten asparagus! (Which is true, it doesn’t… but is it supposed to???)
- My DNA suggests I like the taste of fresh coriander! (Like it? I LOVE IT!)
- My DNA doesn’t indicate I’m particularly sensitive to bitter flavours (…which I guess is true; the thing I hate in the flavours of cruciferous vegetables is the way they smell and taste like farts, not really bitterness.)
- My DNA does suggest I’m highly sensitive to sweetness, so I probably don’t seek out sugary foods. (This I found interesting, because I actually do dislike lots of intensely sweet foods that other people seem to enjoy, like milk chocolate or lollies, and have always been more of a savoury snack enjoyer – I just had no idea it was a genetic trait, haha!)
- I’m probably less sensitive to umami, or “savoury flavour”, than average.
- I’m not lactose intolerant. (I had noticed, lol.)
Would I have bought this test kit for myself? No. And given they seem to have fairly poor data for people of Indian background (and not just Indian, tbh – apparently they have 1,277 geographic regions in Europe they can link you to, but only 57 for all of Asia east of Iran?), I’m not sure how worth it it was for Vivian either. But it’s a sunk cost at this point, and IDK, the “traits” part was kind of fun 😛 It would probably be more enlightening for the kind of person who’s like, “idk, I think my surname is proooobably German?” rather than people who already kinda know our family histories. Still, it hasn’t been a terrible diversion this evening. I hope they can get better data for non-European parts of the world.