“Wanna know the truth about yourself…? Just learn…your DNA code then you’ll see.”
― Toba Beta
I have always been interested, from an early age dating back to an 8th grade school project, in my family tree. I’ve ancestors that hailed from Scotland, Ireland, England (and before that, Normandy France) and Scandinavia. But I never knew which genes from all those folk I’d actually inherited, in what percentages to know what I basically am, so I recently did the DNA thing from two companies, Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com, and have received the results:
Ancestry: 52% British (which includes England, Scotland, Wales), 17% Ireland, 15% Europe West (which includes Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein), 10% Scandinavia (which includes Norway, Sweden, Denmark), 4% Iberia (which includes Spain, Portugal), 1% Italy/Greece. Zero percent anything else.
MyHeritage: 67.5% Scandinavia, 32.5% Iberian.
As you can see, the results from both appear startling different. How can I be 10% Scandinavian with one test and 67.5% with the other, 4% Spanish with one and 32.5% with the other (not to mention all the other percentages with one, and no other percentages with the other)?
I have done some research on the web, reading comparisons on all the different DNA companies (and their methods) and both Ancestry and MyHeritage are highly recommended and comparably equal. (To be fair, there are a couple of others just as highly rated, so do your own research if you’re interested.) I have also read how DNA is processed by the lab(s) all the companies use.
The bottom line, as best as I understand it, is that the lab(s) yield the same results. But how they are interpreted is based on each company’s algorithms, database or methods used to translate the data, and the raw DNA results will look different from company to company – just as mine do.
Further research explains:
Differences mostly come from how each company’s computer algorithm splits up the DNA into thousands of windows, analyzing one window at a time. And how blank spots (or “no calls”) in the data affects how the DNA is interpreted and/or split up into those pieces.These no calls are a consequence of any test like the ones these companies run, which means that each test has thousands and thousands of spots that could not be read, and the same markers do not come up as no calls in different tests, each time someone’s DNA is read, you can end up with a different uninterpretable.
Also, the basic difference between these two companies is their focus: Ancestry apparently looks more for where one’s specific DNA shows up in the world relatively recently (as history goes) whereas MyHeritage apparently looks for one’s DNA further back in origins (but much less further back than the National Geographic’s Genographic Project Geno 2.0 Next Generation test, which traces one’s DNA journey back to it’s historical roots, i.e., Africa).
For example : The closest genetic relatives of the Irish are to be found in the north of Spain. These same ancestors are shared with the people of Britain – the English, but especially the Scots in the Kingdom of Dalriada (the Scottish Highlands). People in both islands have a strong predominance of Haplogroup 1 gene, meaning that most in the British Isles and Ireland are descended originally from Spain. Also, those in southeastern England have a large amount of Scandinavian genes due to the centuries of Danish occupation, as well as the Dane and Norwegian occupations of both Ireland and the Scottish Highlands and Isles.
So, in conclusion, the results of both are very much the same, differing only on (relatively) recent location (Ancestry) versus yesteryear’s location, that of the aggregate (MyHeritage) – and it can be deduced that, based on MyHeritage’s focus on further back origins, their analysis of my Spanish (Iberian) DNA would include my British (English and Scottish) and Irish, and my Scandinavian would also include my British (English) and Irish, and the Italy/Greece of Ancestry may well be one of those blank spot/no calls MyHeritage simply didn’t read.
Final analysis, I’m probably more Scandinavian than anything else, with somewhat less Irish and English and Scottish (Iberian roots).
So, as you can see, should you decide to delve into the world of what your DNA says about you, take any of the highly rated tests but don’t be surprised or disappointed in the results of whatever test you take if it says it’s not what you expected, some other test may say something that appears to be different and something you are happier with.
But, if you do a little research, you’ll find they all say just about the same thing, just differently, and with a little effort, you’ll find out just what you are if you really want to know.