I have spent much of the past month (okay, this past *year*) preparing for my first trip to Ireland, in my quest to learn more about that side of my roots. And DNA plays an important part!
If you watch much TV, you’ve probably seen the Ancestry commercial in which a man’s DNA results contradict his family tradition of a German heritage, so he trades in his lederhosen for a kilt! The irony is, no matter how German you may be, if you test at Ancestry, you won’t get German as a result in your ‘ethnicity’ pie chart; it’s not one of the categories they offer! (See, perhaps, a more generic ‘Western European’ as one possible alternative.)
Many genetic genealogists have written about how imprecise these predictions are within the continent of Europe. For example, see The Legal Genealogist Judy Russell’s blog post Those percentages if you must. Those estimates may be more reliable, however, in suggesting where some of your ancestors might have lived in the past 200 years or so.
Among DNA testing companies, 23andMe offers a unique chromosome tool to explore our biogeographic origins. It’s probably most valuable for people with ancestors from different continents, but I am going to create a lederhosen vs. kilt challenge for myself and more closely examine 23andMe’s identification of German/French roots in my DNA.
Rumor has it that AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA are working on updates to their “ethnicity” reporting. Since this is the month many of us celebrate being Irish (AncestryDNA is even offering a $10 discount on DNA kits in honor of St. Patrick’s Day), I thought I’d take a minute or two to muse over this question:
How can two full siblings (as seen in the pie charts above) have such different ethnicity reports?