Ancestry’s Mythical Admixture Percentages

“The Emperor’s New Clothes” is a tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent.  When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his “new clothes,” no one wants to admit that they can’t see the kings clothes but a child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”

Ok, Ancestry’s emperor has no clothes, not a stitch.  I’m saying it outright – he is BUCK NAKED!!!

I’ve been exercising restraint, I’ve been trying not to say anything negative, then I was trying not to be overtly negative.  But you know, my patience has run out.  If you think this posting is harsh, well all I can say is that you should have seen the first few versions before I softened it substantially.

I grew up on a farm with a wonderfully eloquent step-Dad of very few and very simple words.  When he said anything, you listened.  According to Dad, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck….or in this case, it’s a naked emperor.

And I’m not done yet, in fact, I’ve only just begun.  Here, let me put it in a way that cannot be misunderstood…

Dearest Ancestry – We are NOT STUPID!  Make no mistake.  Nor are we lemmings.  Yes, I’m shouting, so Ancestry, sit down and listen up.

A day or so ago, someone posted this link showing a video where Ancestry provides some education on how to use their AncestryDNA results.  I applaud Ancestry (yes, I did say that) for providing this educational tool, but some of the content simply infuriated me.  It insults the intelligence of all genealogists.

I spent decades in the technology industry and I understand beta code.  I understand pre-release and release and tweaking.  I understand making a mistake, and fixing it.  And I understand being the “last kid” on the block to play the game. If you want to compete, being last and late with a less than stellar reputation, you have to offer something to attract people, or have a captive audience, or both.  Enter Ancestry’s AncestryDNA $99 autosomal test.

The problem is that their admixture percentages are simply WRONG.  Period.  Not a “tiny error”, not “needs tweeking,” utterly, entirely wrong.  Throw it out and start over wrong.  There are no secret Scandinavians hiding in the bushes, or in everyone’s family tree, and the fact that they are embracing their error and trying to turn a dime by telling people that they DO have a huge amount of mythical Scandinavian blood and they just need to use Ancestry’s tools to search longer and harder is not only infuriating, it’s unethical and self-serving.

Several bloggers and others have pointed out that after taking many of these types of tests, Ancestry’s results are the only ones showing large amounts of Scandinavian heritage.  So every other company and population geneticist is wrong and Ancestry has made a monumental discovery?

Ancestry has been put on notice by many individuals.  The gal, Crista, in this video who has the unfortunate job of telling this whopper publicly and attempting to convince you of this newly found “truth” even said that people have been challenging those results and are “confused.”  No doubt, they should be.

But instead of looking at the reference population data validity (that Ancestry refuses to share), or the math, for possible issues, Ancestry is lauding this inherent error as a discovery, as stated by their executives at recent conferences and elsewhere in the press, and using is it as a marketing ploy.  Well, it is the season for politics and “spin” but this is reprehensible.

Christa Cowan, on this video, uses her own father’s results and genealogy as an example.  He has 47% Scandinavian ethnic percentage according to Ancestry, yet his pedigree chart showed line after line of Scotland, England and Wales as his ancestral origins, with holes, of course, representing brick walls, like we all have.  Crista was trying to convince us, and probably herself too, that in spite of all that British Isles ancestry, and no discernible Scandinavian pedigree heritage, that in fact this was ALL attributed to Scandinavian ancestors – because her father had NO British Isles heritage, according to Ancestry.

Here’s a screen shot of his results, from the video.  The video resolution was poor, so this is too, but you can still see that Scandinavia is colored blue and the British Isles have no coloration.

Crista said “We’re discovering that there is a lot of Scandinavian blood out there.”  No, Crista, you’re discovering that you have been offered up as a sacrificial lamb by a naked emperor.

Let’s look at this another way.  Crista said that she knows 365 of the 1022 people who are her 7th generation ancestors.  If that is true, then she knows 36% of them.  That means, since there seem to be no Scandinavian ancestors in that 36% (isn’t that amazing), that the balance of the 47% of that ancestry, or another 480 ancestors are Scandinavian, and she has managed to somehow in her genealogy miss every single one of those 480 and find 365 others who weren’t Scandinavian.

Do you really believe that half of her ancestry is Scandinavian and she managed to miss all of them in the one third she has discovered?  Unlikely.  Crista, if you’re really that unlucky, don’t even bother to buy a lottery ticket.

Crista said that none of her Scotland, Wales and England ancestors showed up as British Isles because this test is picking up deep ancestry.  Really?  So all of those people married other people of Scandinavian heritage in the British Isles and none, not one, married Angles, Saxon, Jutes, Celts or Picts from the British Isles for the hundreds or thousands of years they lived there?  Now that is absolutely amazing.  How do you propose that happened?  Were there records to keep that all straight in secret guilds someplace?  For a conspiracy of that magnitude to work, there must have been records.  Where are they and where is the history of that conspiracy?  Or are those ethnic groups supposed to show up as Germanic?  That would mean that no one shows up as British Isles because everyone was continental before migrating to the British Isles.  So we’re supposed to believe that Ancestry is picking up ancient ancestry but nothing contemporary, nothing from the British Isles in hundreds or thousands of years?  And how does that happen, exactly?

Now we know that mutations have happened in the British Isles in the thousands of years they have been inhabited and those mutations are measureable.  Anyone with any doubts, just refer of the Niall of the 9 Hostages Y-line mutation (R-M222) in haplogroup R, among others.  So what we’re supposed to believe is that pretty much everyone came from Scandinavia and they had some very effective secret club that kept them from ever marrying anyone from the British Isles?  Does this sound ridiculous to you?  Well, it does to me too.

Ok, so if Ancestry has made such a monumental discovery, why then has this not been documented and academically published?  Other companies do this in conjunction with academia.  Perhaps because this is based on flawed science?  It looks to me like it’s worse than guessing.  Could it be intentional?

I know that some of Ancestry’s AncestryDNA customers have British Isles ethnicity percentages, because I do.  Here is a screen shot of my results at Ancestry.

You’ll notice that I have 80% British Isles, 12% Scandinavian and 8% uncertain.

Some years back, I did a pedigree analysis of my genealogy in an attempt to make sense of autosomal results from other companies.

The paper, Revealing American Indian and Minority Heritage Using Y-line, Mitochondrial, Autosomal and X Chromosomal Testing Data Combined with Pedigree Analysis was published in the Fall 2010 issue of JoGG, Vol. 6 issue 1.

The pedigree analysis portion of this document begins about page 8.  My ancestral breakdown is as follows:

Geography Percent
Germany 23.8041
British    Isles 22.6104
Holland 14.5511
European by   DNA 6.8362
France 6.6113
Switzerland .7813
Native   American .2933
Turkish .0031

This leaves about 25% unknown.  However, this looks nothing like the 80% British Isles and the 12% Scandinavian shown by Ancestry.  Where are my heavily German lines?  I have the German church records for generations on many families.  Where are my Dutch lines?  I have those records too.  And France, I have records there too?  Where are they and how are they represented at Ancestry?

They aren’t just incorrect, they are entirely absent, and in their stead, more British Isles and Scandinavian.  And no, I’m not buying the concept that half of my unknown 25% is really Scandinavian.  Sorry.  Try again.

So, here we are.  Ancestry is wrong, blatantly, unquestionably wrong, and arrogantly so.  Instead of testing and comparing against known and proven genealogies and pedigree charts before release, they have plowed new ground and invented Scandinavian ancestry where it doesn’t exist.  They have ignored hundreds, probably thousands of people who have documentation, and have complained, instead trying to convince the Crista’s of the world, along with the rest of us, that despite their well-documented ancestry in the British Isles, that they have none and instead they are Scandinavian.  Ditto my German, Dutch, etc.

Everyone makes mistakes.  People and companies with integrity step up as soon as a problem is identified, take responsibility, apologize (that goes a long way) and then they fix the problem.  But Ancestry not only didn’t test adequately, they won’t even consider that there might be a problem, they are arrogantly claiming “discovery” when in fact, they are a buck naked emperor extolling their own virtues because certainly no one else will.  They are insulting our intelligence and demeaning our ancestry.  With it they are sacrificing their own integrity.  Indeed, as my old farmer Dad used to say, integrity is like virginity, you only get to lose it once.  Yea, Dad, you’re right.  Ancestry’s is long gone.

It’s a shame that our own genealogy is being exploited, used as a tool by Ancestry to manipulate us by virtue of their flawed science and results to “stay subscribed” and to search for ancestors we can never find because they don’t exist.  That’s a pretty good marketing ploy, right up until someone exposes the truth.  According to Ancestry, it’s not that they have bad science, but that we have bad genealogy.  Really?  All of us?

Shame on you Ancestry.  I don’t believe this is an error or a mistake anymore.  Companies fix mistakes, not exploit them.  I would hate to think this was an intentional marketing or promotional ploy.  I wonder how the people responsible for this can look at themselves in the mirror every morning, knowing what they are doing with and to our genealogy, exploiting their customers, defiling our ancestry, which genealogists consider to be sacrosanct.

I encourage everyone to do a basic pedigree analysis and send your results to Ancestry.  Let them know if your ethnic percentages are substantially wrong.  They need to hear your voice and apparently, many voices, before they are willing to take notice.  Even if they don’t answer, they can apparently count, judging from their recent decision to release the raw autosomal data in 2013 after input from customers.

So let me say this again.  We are NOT STUPID and we are NOT SILENT.  Ancestry, you need to step up, fess up and FIX this problem, now.  It’s time to do the right thing.



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432 thoughts on “Ancestry’s Mythical Admixture Percentages

  1. I’ve sent feedback to ancestry that I also have skewed ethnicity percentages. My results are 72% Eastern European, 13% British Isles, 12% Southern European, and 3% uncertain. Both Dad and my maternal grandfather have J ydna, so I can accept some SE (although no trace remains in the paper genealogy). Dad is of 100% Slovak ancestry, as both of his parents immigrated from an isolated Slovak village where their families are documented for more than 200 years – so I’m willing to allot him as much as 50% EE. Mom comes from a large and well-documented colonial family of mostly British Isles ancestors, but according to ancestry I have to attribute at least 22% EE to her. I’ve used dna to rule out non-paternity events in recent generations. So it would appear that half of mom’s supposed BI ancestry is really EE? I don’t think so. And of interest, all my matches on her side report heavy BI ancestry – as I would expect. I believe that in my case, the results are skewed for some reason towards dad’s more recent Slovak ancestry. Bottom line, I take the ethnicity results with a grain of salt. But on the positive side, I’m already in contact with new dna cousins through my matches!

    • I paid $99 for the test. While I do believe they have rated my percentage of Scandinavian too high I still feel I got my money’s worth. I have gotten some bonafide matches. Because I’m skeptical I did also test with familytreeDNA. Some of the people I’ve matched with in AncestryDNA are also matches in FamilyTreeDNA, so at least some of the matches seem to be valid, no matter what they call it. I also think the FamilyTree DNAis off in the group they call French. I have a first cousin once removed who was called 100% Western European (French). Look at the history of France, there have been many invasions by different groups, so what does 100% French really represent. And by the way my cousin has no known French ancestry. I’ve just done the new National Geographic test so it will be interesting to see what they say.

  2. I agree with this post and the concerns raised. My stance on the issue is that I use a DNA testing company to test my DNA, I use a online database company to search for records and I use a genealogy software to enter my data. I don’t mix them.

    If not, you get a company that offers everything but with varying quality. Subpar DNA tests, poor indexing service for their online databases ans research that points you to user trees without sources. And each service is there to drive the business of the others.

  3. I am saying this again, because I think it is significant: What are Ancestry’s goals? There are people who are interested in the science and then there are people who have other intent. Ancestry is interested in accumulating info on family trees. Who owns Ancestry? Anybody?

  4. Corporate DNA is a lot like the other kind and Permira is swimming as fast as it can to sever roots in the original company with the LDS. They are not originally a science-based enterprise. Here’s from the press release on new plans after the merger:

    expanding its product offerings in areas like DNA, and building the brand and the family history category, all on a global basis. will remain headquartered in Provo, Utah, with a continued large presence in San Francisco, Dublin, London and other international markets.

  5. Is FTdna the one you are talking about? Sorry if it is a dumb question. I am new to the DNA side of genealogy and my brother got ymarker 37 test J2 /m172 results that said <0.1% England, 0.1% Saudia Arabia, and NA for Cypress. Is it normal or usual for 98.8 percent of the results to be ignored or no mentioned? We assumed we were Irish, Scotch, Welsh or perhaps German judging from the name, Moore, the appearance of our family members and the area we know we lived in. (Chester County, PA since 1790s).

    • No, I’m talking about’s autosomal test, NOT the one from Family Tree DNA. If you took the one at Family Tree DNA, this does not apply to you. Also, the numbers are you reporting above are your Ancestral Origins matches. Read the text about what each of the tabs means. This one is where the people you match are located and how much of the DNA in those locations is relevant to you. If you are interested, the DNA Reports look at each page and everything provided and puts it together as a whole for you. They are available at and were created exactly for people like you who are new and would like to understand everything their is to wring out of your DNA test.

  6. You are aware that Sorenson’s & sold their data/companies, to, just recently…and then turned around and sold out to a European conglomerate, in the past week; with Wall St already selling stocks in it…that follow the money thing, always seems to apply, when common sense just won’t cut it. I’ve been irked by Ancestry’s monopoly and insatiable, unbridled greed, for yrs…& I’ve been a member since they went online. They conveniently “lose” data, records, etc and seem to be manipulated by those who don’t want to have genetically ties, to some given group and conveniently seem to re-work the evidence to suit some …probably a chairholder’s…body’s preferences. But, they gobble up every new geno company as it gets going and none seem to be able to hold up, long, against their wiley nature. All that is, isn’t whatever they make it appear to be..but what’s the ulterior motive, in the “new global” scheme of things..that is my question…or, at least one, of several.

  7. I think it is important that everyone who has tested with Ancestry provides feedback. More importantly, we should all be campaigning for them to publish the details of the reference populations they are using. I would be very interested to know what is in their “British” reference population. I live in the British Isles, and all my documented ancestry, as far back as I can trace it, is from the British Isles, yet according to the Ancestry test I am 58% Central European, 25% British Isles, 13% Eastern European and 4% unknown. It is ironic that an American like Roberta with only a small percentage of documented British DNA comes out much more “British” than me. I’ve also written about my concerns with the Ancestry test on my blog:

  8. You tell them, Roberta. Ancestry’s arrogance in this new field is phenomenal. I guess they are so used to dealing with novices on the genealogy research side they figure DNA will be the same way.

  9. I have at least 16 lines on my father’s side that has been in the US since or before the American Revolution and were of several different European countries and only know of 2 lines on my mother’s side from Englad and two from Scotland/Wales. My ancestry dna came back with 89% British Isles and 11% Turkish……really? and I am supposed to believe this? I responded back with comments but of course have heard nothing, except sent the posting about Crista Cowen answering peoples DNA questions. I understand the fruit/vegetable scenario she used. But I am expected to believe that absolutely none of my father’s DNA has come through? Not likely!!!!

    • I think ancestry has the British Isles and the Scandinavian mixed up. I have 13 Mayflower Pilgrim great, great, gr… grandparents. They are all approved and documented to me though the Mayflower Society. My grandmother’s maiden name is McCurdy. She is also about half English decent. Two women who married McCurdy men in my line were direct decendants to Royal Scotch and English Kings. AncestryDNA Ethnicity results show me as 50% Scandinavian-WHAT!! I have done a very, very large family tree. I have absolutely NO Scandinavian people in my family tree.They also show me as 47% Central European, which would be correct, because Central European includes, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, etc. Now, I must say that I like the Cousin “Shared Ancestor in Common” matching
      part of ancestryDNA. I have found numerous “Shared Matching Ancestor’s.” Many of the “shared ancestors” are from my Scotch and English ancestors. Some of the people who I have a “shared ancestor” with have 93% British Isles. Now, if the ethnicity results show that I have 0% British Isles, how is it possible, that I match with these other Scotch and English descendents? I think ancestry needs to re-do their Ethnicity part of the tests. It sounds like they have confused British Isles results with what should be Scandinavian results and visa versa. But again, I really like the “Shared Ancestor in Common” DNA feature.

      • Hi Becky,

        Your comment is very interesting. You poor people with the searches about the Brittish Isles bloodlines are having such a hard time. I am still trying to find info on my earlier Russian blood prior to my grandparents. There seems to be lost records of course from the uheavals there in the turn of the 1900’s. I just read something about the Georgian (in the middle east area and Russia) people. I know that is what my grandmother said she spoke, and an interesting fact that my blood on the maternal line is T2B3, which shows in the history I read that we are of ancestry with the Arabian, Black Sea region. What!! I had no idea.

      • The British Isles and Scandinavian genes ARE mixed up. This is where I found it very interesting to learn more history. Our genes go back much farther than our names. I followed my English lines back before the Norman conquest and found English ancestors born in Norway, Denmark, etc. They had cool names. The Anglo-Saxons called all of the Scandinavians Danes, and the northeast region of present-day England was called Danelaw. The people we call Vikings were in England. In fact, the Normans were also Vikings.

        • Thanks, I supose the indigent people of the British Isles headed out of the area for fishing in warmer climates and maybe found some reason to stay in the area of Germany, France, etc. Setting up house, plus the fact that they were such accomplished sailors, they went everywhere. Right?

          • Linda, as for whether people in Britain sailed to the continent or vice versa, or whether one branch came from Britain and another from France, I don’t think you can know. (I do know that some Celts went to France after the fall of the Roman Empire.)

            I think that if you have a long chromosome segment matching a present-day sample from, say, Cornwall, you can be fairly certain your own ancestors from Cornwall were relatively recent (otherwise the segments would be shorter). But trying to sort out their migration patterns would reguire a lot more knowledge than I have. Perhaps more than anyone has…. yet.

            Remember that what the test is looking at chromosome segments and how they match the same segments of research samples in various parts of Europe. That’s all they can do. They cannot follow our history. They are not time travelers. But wouldn’t that be fun!

          • Oh yes, well I know nothing about genalogy testing, as I just did a cheek swab with the Nat/Geo project and Spencer Wells to find what group I belong to. Now is there a test I can have done through another site to find exactly what information my genes hold and hopefully it would not be too expensive. Thanks in advance for your reply.

          • Linda, do you know what tests you had done? It would be either your mtDNA (direct maternal line) or autosomal DNA (a sorting out of all your ancestors from every line). From what you’ve said, it’s mtDNA or both. You got an mtDNA haplogroup, and that tells you your direct maternal line, but nothing else. Did you get the rest? (I have to sign off for tonight. My thermostat is broken and the outside temp just dropped to 19. My fingers are frozen. Good thing I’m a Baltic Hunter-Gatherer.)

          • Gerry, I hear you on the temperature, I keep stoking the fireplace and have a “blanky” around my legs. I had a mtDNA done and have no male paternal family members who can or I think may be interested in taking a test. I am old and the cousins on my father’s side are not near me and we hardly ever communicate, plus there may be one who I did talk to recently that is quesionable, if you know what I mean. I came from a family lf 5 girls.

          • Linda, in addition to the mtDNA test, you should have the autosomal DNA test done. It is called Family Finder on FTDNA and Relative Finder on 23andMe. If I were you, I’d take advantage of the $99 special on 23andMe and order it right now while it’s this low price. They do a package of tests and you don’t have to select the ones you want, wondering which ones you need. You’ll get so much information it will keep you entertained forever. Also, you will fill out health forms (if you want, and you may as well), and you’ll learn what health conditions you’ve inherited. You’ll even learn your eye color. 🙂

          • Thanks Jeri, I am thnkng about spending more money for something like that. I just retired and am waiting for the pieces to fall and I can plan better my income monthly. I reqlly hate to waste money that I can use in the Springtime to travel around the states an dinvestigate things. I am still cold today, are you?

          • I know just what you mean. Retirement can start soaking up money. I do find that genealogy is one of the cheapest hobbies I’ve ever had, considering $300 a year for Ancestry plus a couple DNA tests, done once. I figure a dollar a day is the best education and entertainment I’ve ever had, especially since I cancelled the cable TV which was $2 a day. Replacing one with the other has made me money.

          • Well, I want to sit here at home and decide what I want to do in the Spriing, like go see things and places I am curious about, hopefully my car will be good enough to handle it. It is paid for but in good shape still, plus pretty good on the old GAS. Thanks for the response.

  10. I didn’t do the test but just for comparison, let me tell you what FTDNA’s Family Finder told me. According to them, I am 100% Orcadian. Now I realize that the Vikings settled there and mixed with the Scots, still……….. My documented paper trail makes it clear that my father’s ancestors were 100% Norwegian back as far as the paper trail runs, in some lines back to before 1600, in others only back to the late 1700’s. One might imagine that from my 50% Norwegian DNA, at least FTDNA would have noticed a little bit of it. I also have documented German ancestry at least 1/8 (my mother’s father’s father’s line) and the possibility (not well documented) of more German and probably a little Dutch. I have at least one known French Huguenot ancestor but I concede that may be far enough back not to show up. However I figure this, I am not 100% any one thing except European. I will accept that but I have no reason to think I have anybody from the Orkney Islands.

    • I think the difference here is that we know the reference populations in PF – its coming back ‘Orcadian’ because that’s the name of the population, not ‘Scotland’ . Its *wrong* for you, I agree, and hopefully will be updated in the near future, but its clear as to why and where that population comes from.

      • I don’t argue at all with anyone (everyone) who is protesting Ancestry’s absurd secrecy. Full disclosure of everything is best. Ancestry has been playing games with all who purchased this test. Like the rest of you, I find this offensive. I just wanted to point out that the break down of ancestral homelands can be faulty no matter who provides it. I guess the short explanation is that the databases are not big and diverse enough. Too many people believe what they are told which causes a lot of confusion. Another problem concerns how far back these reports of ancestral locations are supposed to describe. People moved, migrated, so this matters. I’m not belittling the seriousness of the problem with Ancestry, only pointing out that even if they were open with their data and did a better job of the calculations, these charts of ancestral locations would still be more or less inaccurate.

    • All of the autosomal testing companies fail to use adequate and appropriate sampling in identifying admixture percentages. I experienced the same frustration as you when I received my FTDNA results and questioned “Orcadian”. A little research revealed that the sample was first determined back in 2005 in the Human Genome Diversity Project by the doyen now in his dotage, Cavalli-Sforza, who at 90 is still signing off on his old Stanford proteges’ research. The HGDP used 1050 samples from 52 regions, one of which it styled “Orcadian”. It did not include any other Northern Europe region in its sampling – no Scandinavian, nor German, nor British, nor Polish, but did include THREE Italian groups, possibly revealing Mr. Cavalli-Sforza’s bias. This choice was totally arbitrary and assuredly inadequate. (It also used samples from eight Pakistani regions but none from India, resulting in considerable controversy there too) It’s a shame FTDNA used the same samples for comparison and I hope Geno 2.0 corrects what I consider a fraud perpetrated on the gullible purchasers of these products.

  11. I just posted the following to the youtube video

    why do your results differ from your competition
    my Familytree DNA Population Finder
    Continent (Subcontinent) Population Percentage Margin of Error
    Europe (Western European) French, Orcadian, Spanish 87.92% ±9.38%
    Europe Tuscan, Finnish, Romanian, Sardinian 12.08% ±9.38%

    my Ancestry DNA Genetic Ethnicity
    Central European 62%
    Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein.
    Scandinavian 38%
    Norway, Sweden, Denmark

  12. AncestryDNA’s price just went up to $129 plus shipping. No invitation required.
    Unless they come through on their promise to release raw data, it is not worth it.

    • Even if they do release data, you then have to convince every person who tested and who you match to do the download, then the upload to GedMatch. Lots of people aren’t going to do that. Ancestry doesn’t even offer basic chromosome mapping as part of their toolbox.

  13. LOL!!! Funny all the scandinavian DNA showing up in the results with no known Scandinavian in the tree. I am almost 3/8 Norwegian, 3/8 German and 2/8 British Isles and Danish. My results show 57% British isles, 35% Central European (what does this mean? the German?) and 8% Finnish/Volga-Ural. Not one drop of Scandinavian. HMMMMM…. Since I have Norwegian on both sides, you would think there would at least be a drop. And the Finnish/Volga-Ural? No family lines go there. Since I have traced lines back on almost all family lines 5-10 generations, something is amiss. Yes, it would be nice to know the “control population” ancestry is using. It really is bogus.

    • Exactly what I was going to say. I do have Scandinavian ancestry, and I am one of the few with no Scandinavian showing on the DNA test!

    • I have the same problem. My grandfather was Swedish and I was expecting to see 25% Scandinavian. Instead claims I am 0% Scandinavian and 25% British Isles! Even if my ancestors were originally from the British isles, how could they live for generations in Sweden without picking up an ounce of Scandinavian blood? Something is definitely wrong and I am really disappointed that this DNA test may have been a complete waste of money and time.

      • These issues bothered me a lot until I began learning some history. First, our DNA results go back way before Grandma and Grandpa — thousands, tens of thousands of years! Who was in England before the Normans invaded? Where did they come from? Where did their ancestors come from? Read about it. Second, the results are not saying that your ancestors CAME FROM Scandinavia, or wherever. The results are saying that your DNA is very similar to the DNA of people living in Scandinavia TODAY. I had my tests done by 23andMe and by Family Tree DNA. If you question one lab, get another test by another lab. I found FTDNA’s interpretation quite weird and 23andMe’s interpretation far more in line with my family tree. I uploaded their results to GEDMatch and found the results from the two labs to be nearly identical. That’s the place to do your INTERPRETATION of results. They offer various models, using different research samples (Norway, Sardinia,…) to compare your results. Once you do that, and you see your ethnic composition in pie charts that you can compare, one to the other, then you begin to understand what it’s all about. Don’t leave the “thinking” to someone else. Your results are probably correct. It’s the interpretation of your results that requires knowledge of history and some logical thinking.

    • Yes, and I have NO Scandianivans in my family tree that I know of. I have done a very large, long family tree. I have a LOT OF Scotch and English ancestors. Yet my ancesty DNA Ethnicity test results show me as 50% Scandinaivan-What!!! really!!! and 47% Central European, which is probably about right, because Central European includes, Germany, France, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, etc. and I show 3% undetermined. However, I do like the “Shared Ancestor in Common” because apparently that is a completely different result. I am finding many “shared ancestors in common” with all the other descendants of my Scotch and English ancestors. However, many them show very high British Isle Ethnicity and I show 0% British Ethnicity. I have sent ancestry many messages with no reply. I have also called them. They say — Saxon’s who were German, Norman’s who were Scandinavian people living in France.and the Vikings all invaded and lived in England, Scotland and Ireland. Somethings fishy. How do they explain the people who have about 100% Scandinavian background who they have at 57% British Isle??. Oh, all the people living in England and Scotland and Ireland became about 100% Scandinavian and the Scandinavian people became British Isle – English and Scottish… Come on… Somethings fishy. I love the results of the “Shared Ancestor in Common” Cousin Matching part of the DNA test results. They should have stuck to the “cousin matching” part until they got the Ethnicity stuff worked out correctly.

  14. Pingback: Trouble with autosomal DNA - Ancestry research, historical records, genetic analysis, sharing data, locating family - City-Data Forum

  15. I think this discussion points out how atDNA testing isn’t very useful for finding specific ancestors unless you have a whole lot of people whose relationship you already have an idea about tested. what this test does, and what the people who are perplexed about Where are these Scandinavian ancestors may be confused about, is look for chunks of DNA that are similar in various populations. People from Scandinavia and the British isles have been exchanging certain body fluids for a least a couple thousand years–remember 1066 when the NORman conquest started or that the Vikings had a big presence in Ireland for many many years, that Scandinavians were all over Scotland, and ruled the Orkneys and shetlands, etc.etc. So it is certainly factually true that a person of British/Irish origins shares about 15-30 percent of their DNA with Scandinavia–without having a single Swedish great grandmother or 7 x great grandmother. But it’s the answer to a useless question, for genealogy, because it’s so broad–guess what you’re from Europe!

  16. I have similar qualms with FTDNA, who has me matching the Orkney Islands and Middle East, including a chunk of north Africa. Their little map shows nothing on continental Europe, where nearly all my ancestors lived. Sure, I have a long line of British ancestors, back to the Battle of Hastings, fighting on both teams. My Italian ancestors came from a small alpine village. My German ancestors also lived in a tiny village in Bavaria for 300 years, and my French ancestors lived in a little village near Italy and married cousins for 400 years. My test results with 23andMe are interpreted entirely differently from FTDNA’s, reporting 100% European. Uploading both results to GEDmatch, I get very reasonable interpretations from all of the models.

  17. I am going to have to play Devil’s Advocate here. I have just recently started to do genealogy, but my mother has been doing it for about 25 years and I wanted to find out more about my dad’s side of the family. She has done a DNA test on herself through ancestry and we have both been happy with the results. I have to stress that the results AREN’T your percentage of Scandinavian DNA, even though her amount was high, and after reading this I might get one through 23andMe. What my positive result is I have literally dozes of matches and it has helped me unlock at least 1 roadblock that my mother has been working on for more than 20 years. To be fair, I think if I had a less complete tree, or a less number of families with well known accepted genealogies I probably would have much fewer matches. My grandmother was from an old New England family and can trace more than 90% of her lines back to the 1600s and beyond and most of my matches have a common ancestor about born 1650-1700. But still, I am 100% happy with it, being I don’t honestly care about the percentage, I care about what I can do with the results. I would like it if Ancestry would make changes to give more accurate percentages, for my own personal knowledge, but I am still happy with my results.

    For me the major problem with Ancestry DNA is the amount of time it takes to go though results. It would me nice if you could do a Name search that would search all your matches to help you work on a specific line to try to glean more information.

  18. Omg, ancestry had conned me, I am same as everyone else high in Scandinavia, or should I say been scanned. On a serious note, how do you complain has anyone got a refund over this. I seem to have a lot of 4th And 5th cousins by my match, which I have not contacted.
    I did not realise everyone else was Scandinavian

    • You have a lot of company. They still insist their results are accurate, as far as I know. If you read the document you signed when you ordered the kit, it says they have no responsibility for accuracy, so there are no grounds for a refund.

  19. I wish I had read this post before I purchased the DNA test. I’m having the exact opposite problem with my test results. Although I know my grandfather to be Swedish, my results came back as 0% Scandinavian and 25% Bristish Isles. Even if my ancestors were originally from the British Isles, how were they able to live for generations in Sweden without picking up an ounce of Scandinavian blood? Something is very wrong here!

    • I have just read all these posts on Scandanavian blood. I am from German/French (Alsace) and Russian, by the way, Russians invaded Scandanavia long ago. What could I be? My Haplo group is same as the Russian Emporer Nicholas II. I have read that all the Royal families in Europe and Asia are related. I am so confused!

      • Ancestral origins are very complex! I’m just beginning to get the hang of it, and there are a lot of genetic genealogists struggling with it themselves. Remember, this is a new science that is growing every day. The quality of the ancestal comparisons depends on the number and quality of reseach samples available.

        Think too about the number of ancestors we have (doubling with every generation as we look back in time). Children inherit half of their genes from each parent. Looking at it a different way, that means we miss half of each parent’s genes. It’s POSSIBLE (though unlikely) not to inherit any genes from someone who lived several generations ago. When I look at my mother’s chromosomes, I see segments “belonging” to certain ancestors (so far as I can tell from other matches), and those ancestors’ genes are not in my chromosomes. My Dad’s genes filled those spaces.

        When you refer to your haplogroup, I assume you mean your mtDNA, your maternal line. I’m not sure how you know that was the same as Nicolas II (since he was male). In any case, that’s only one ancestral line, and you may have an ancestor in common with him many thousands of years ago. In other words, you and Nicolas may have had a common 5,000th grandmother. That’s not very helpful for genealogy.

        Ancestry and the other companies are improving their population-finder algorithms, and hopefully you’ll be able to upload your data to GEDmatch sometime soon. I have tests from 23andMe and FTDNA. Both are uploaded to GEDmatch. All of the companies are improving their population samples for comparison to our data. And since they keep our data, we will be able to continue running new analyses as they become available. Don’t give up! This is the way science is done.

        • Thank you for your reply. I did a cheek swab and sent it to the National Geographic, Genagraphic Project for analysis and I am in the same Haplo group, according to the record in that bank, is the same T2B3 MTdna line as Nicholas II. I read that when the body of Czar Nicholas II was exhumed a DNA sample was taken. I just finished reading about the Romanov family history and see that in fact the grave was found and the family was exhumed and laid to rest in St. Petersburg.

          • Ah, yes, Linda. Now I remember that the bodies were found and tested. I was in Russia last year then watched a documentary on Catherine the Great when I got home. That was mentioned. I found an ancestry chart for Nicolas here:
            His maternal line is from Denmark, Germany, etc. You’re right that royalty came from all over Europe. That’s how countries formed alliances. I think this is why my ancestry is confusing too. I can trace various lines of my family to the Normans (William the Conqueror’s tax collector) as well as to Harald Godwinson, so I’m on both teams of the Battle of Hastings. And I decend directly from the Plantanget line. My chromosomes show a lot in common with Finland, Southern Norway, and the Caucasus. At the same time, large segments match with Sardinia. All of this is reasonable considering my ancestors come from all over Europe. Even three generations ago they could be linked to northern and southern countries. Probably your ancestors moved around too, as they dodged the great ice sheets, long before you have written records. That’s what makes this exciting.

          • Ah yes, I read about the “Plant” being described as a “root” of Jesus. I have a g,g,grandparent on my paternal side who was married to an Italian woman. I have a family tree that goes back to 1500’s. Have you also heard that all the “Royals are related and that they also have blood lines to Jesus?

          • I also have ancestors from Wurttemburg/Baden, but I don’t remember which. If the plot gets any thicker, we can make soup.

          • How wonderful, you went to Russia. Are you a little bit Russian? I wish I could go there and dig up some family history, although I don’t speak Russian. I think I could get by. I am not as brave as I pretent to be, heheheh!

          • My Alsacian grandparents are from the area of Wurttemburg/Baden. I see that the lineage you sent me from Nicholas II has roots back to that area too. The plot thickens………

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  23. By the way, I certainly don’t believe royalty connected back to Jesus, or that there are any records of anybody connecting to Jesus. But Genghis Khan has a lot of descendants!

    • Yes, he was a busy puppy! I went to the Denver Museum a couple of years ago and viewed the display of Genghis Khan and how wide spread he and his conquerors were, It was incredible. Thanks Jeri.

  24. My Ancestry DNA results showed 73% Scandinavian; 14% British Isles and 13% Persian/Turkish. My family tree goes back to the 1700’s and some lines to the 1500’s and there are absolutely no Scandinavians. They are all British Isles and German. I have an unknown great, great grandfather, but no way that accounts for 73%. I have called Ancestry and they talked about the Vikings migrating into Europe and Great Britain. Just can’t believe they only mated with other Scandinavians in all those years. Absolutely none of the DNA relationship matches mean anything to me. The matched “cousins” are mostly from British Isles and except for a few very common surnames none even look familiar. Ancestry suggested I do a DNA test on one of my sisters, but I don’t have enough confidence in their validity to do that after reading all of your blogs. I would appreciate suggestions from anyone who knows more about DNA than I do. Thank You. Linda

    • Why don’t you do a test on yourself at Then you can take that file and upload it to Family Tree DNA. Then you can see all 3 company ethnicity results and compare them. You’ll also get cousin matches at the other 2 companies. Both of the results from those companies are lots more reliable than the Ancestry ethnicity results.

      • If you upload your data to GEDmatch, you can test it with many models to see what is most reasonable. I found FTDNA to be the least useful — very misleading, in fact.

        • Thanks Geri, I guess that makes sense. How much is the cost of having 23andMe to do a test? I just feel like I have no control over sending money over the internet and spending too much for maybe scetchy results for GED match?. It seems that I don’t understand too much. Now how would I order a test and what is the best? Linda

          • Linda, 23andMe is $99 plus shipping. I don’t know if this price will continue after the holidays. It’s a very good deal. There are others recommending 23andMe now too, so it is not just my personal experience. There is a lot to learn about this stuff and it takes patience and time. It’s an ongoing personal project. There’s no quick answer to your questions. It takes an exploring spirit to do it, knowing that the science is growing very fast but has a long way to go. That’s why it’s exciting.

          • Yes, i almost did it, order it I mean but at the end of the form I read that the 23andme is connected to Illumina, so I stopped there. I am not sure, call me crazy but it sounds like it is related to “Illuminati” and maybe they are gathering information to use in the wrong way. I must be reading too much “garbage” lately. I will sit on it for a while and see if something doesn’t come up from the Geno 2.0 test. They will keep me informed of any new information or test development where they can use my sample to further my search. Thanks for your expert advice.

          • I don’t know what illumina is. Look it up. I feel sure they are quite trustworthy. They are too visible and would have too much to lose by discrediting themselves at this point.

        • Hi Jeri, I did get the 23andMe test kit, now will I be able to upload the results afterward to link up with Gedmatch? I don’t even know how to do it. Would love to talk with others who may be related to me in the distand past.

          • Linda, each time you go on, the first thing that comes up is a menu. Go down to “Upload your data files.” Under that, go down to Upload your 23andMe data file. Click on it, and it will talk you through the process. After you have it there, you can just play with all the options they have. I didn’t find it very helpful to have my kit matched to everyone in the database. It was better to pick one of your matches from 23andMe or FTDNA (assuming they uploaded their data) and look at how they match. I like the various ancestral models and the way they are colorfully presented. You get to those under Admixture-Proportions analysis. That can keep you entertained for hours, days, weeks. After playing with those models, I began to understand the “ancestral” connections, which are really not ancestral but comparisons with people today who have similar genes. If two people in your family have test results, you can compare them along each chromosome, looking at where they differ. Anyway, just playing with it is how I began to understand it.

    • Linda, it is true that the British Isles were dominated by Vikings, especially in the eastern parts. The Anglo-Saxons called all the Scandinavians Danes. Danelaw was the eastern region of England. Even the Normans were Vikings (with French names). Sometimes, when we follow our name origins back 800 – 1,000 years, we can see the derivation from Norman French. Norton, for example, came from de Norville. Our “British” ancestors were Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Roman, and Viking, for the most part, and they all intermarried.

  25. I found out from a family tree that our family name was originally Ludwig. It must have been a way that the name was written and seemed to be Lutz. Or maybe they really couldn’t read well. Thinking that my haplo group (from the MTdna) is the same as Nicholas II (T2-G3), it might have lost something in translation. Just my uneducated guess. I have many questions and don’t want to just spend money and spin my wheels. I would like to know if there is a concrete result out here. Thanks for your reply and good advice.

    • Linda, I don’t think you will get a “concrete” result. Our ancestry is very complex with thousands of branches. Don’t expect a lot from your mtDNA. That is only ONE branch out of thousands of branches. Since it’s the direct maternal line, the surname changes every generation. No matter how far back you trace it back, the name will be different for the next mother. Even if you had a ggggg grandmother Lutz or Ludwig, her mother had a different name, corresponding to her father’s name. We can’t get away from her paternal name and it’s ethnic connection, which may be different from her maternal ethnic inheritance.

      I guess all I can say is that if this stuff interests you, it’s important to gather as much information as possible — from DNA tests, reading about history, reading what the genetic genealogists are writing — and integrating that all into your personal puzzle. It is a puzzle! You may never find a solution but the fun part is trying to put it together. We are the first people in all of history to be able to do this.

  26. It’s says there is suppose to be a “delete” feature so I won’t get the auto follow-up -messages in my e-mail box. However, I do not see any place to “delete” so that I won’t get any more automatic messages. HELP. I don’t want to receive these auto- follow-up messages anymore. THERE IS no PLACE THAT I CAN FIND THAT I CAN USE THE DELETE FEATURE. PLEASE NO MORE MESSAGES IN MY E-MAIL BOX. No more “follow-up” comments via email.

    • Becky, I don’t know how to help you. I don’t know that it’s possible to subscribe to just the postings, and not the comments, via e-mail. On an RSS feed, you can subscribe to one and not the other. Otherwise, just use the regular delete key on your keyboard to delete the messages you don’t want to read.

  27. My question is, is anyone taking into account how much the Scandinavians settled other areas? Along with how much raping they did in areas they may not have stayed in long? The Scandinavians settled large portions of England, Ireland, France, and even Russia, just to name some places. They raided up and down coasts and raped women all over the place. I expected some Scandinavian in mine, because I know some of my French ancestors were in areas heavily populated by Scandinavians early on. Later I found out that one of my lines came from Norway to Britain centuries ago (yes, a well documented family who was noble, so it was pretty well documented). In my husband’s case, he got more Scandinavian than me and recently I found some of his ancestors were early Swedish ancestors in America. I just wonder sometimes if people aren’t taking into account how many of us probably do have Scandinavian origins centuries ago. In addition, we only inherit half of each parent’s DNA. Over the years that could mean our line didn’t inherit something from certain ancestors. I could not figure out how my mother could not have any British Isles or Irish. Until I found out that her supposedly British ancestors were originally German. I am not saying that ancesty’s tests aren’t at least somewhat skewed. I do have a lot of Native American, proven through several cousins’ Y DNA and mtDNA tests, so I find it hard to believe I inherited NONE of that DNA when one set of my great great grandparents were Choctaw, not to mention other ancestors. But I do think people have more Scandinavian origins than they realize, and origins that they will probably never document on or elsewhere because the paper trail just may not go back that far in most instances. But I am going to pay to do the Familytreedna, 23andme, and dnatribes tests soon and compare all of them with ancestry and see how similar everything is. I am definitely curious!

    • Yes, the Scandinavians did range far and wide, but the results are so far off that what is suggested is impossible. I mean, they did not just have some secret code by which they only mated with other Scandinavians, no matter where they lived. That is what is being suggested by some of these results, with people who have known, positive, British Isles ancestory, for example, which isn ot showing up at all. That just isn’t feasible.

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  29. I have been sorting out some family trees with DNA very successfully, but I don’t pay any attention to the regional % since they don’t help anything. For example: my first husband’s name was very Irish but his line lived in Germany for almost 300 years (equalling a whole lot of Germanic genes). I found out why–his ancestor was on the losing side of the Scottish Rebellion of 1640 and his Scotish/Irish regiment moved to the Netherlands and Germany until my father-in-law came to America after WWI.

    Look on a map at how a northerner would get to Constantinople in early days:
    1. Take a ship down the Atlantic and Across the Mediterranean with very unreliable weather.
    2. Ride across Europe with all the petty lords fighting and taxing wayfarers.
    3. Take a riverboat down the Volga, or horse across the plains of Poland and the Ukraine.
    The third was actually a safer route because fewer people and lots of flat land. Southerners did the same thing in reverse. Spaniards went north as Vikings came south. Ever since Homo Sapiens arrived we have been stirring things up all over the place.
    My grandmother said she was German. Her father became a US citizen and renounced allegiance to the Holy Roman Emperor (of Austria). But her ancestors went from Westphalia to the Ukraine mid 1700s when Catherine the Great married Tsar Peter III and wanted some German villages to remind her of home. So Grandma’s genetic makeup was probably partially Ukranian for 150 years. The only thing that is guaranteed is that we are all very mixed up. Your percentages of anything might be fun for a parlor game, but they do not really tell you anything about where to look next for your specific ancestor.

  30. Ancestry took our DNA samples and now it appears that the investment company that bought them has a business unit that specializes in DNA research for healthcare/pharma. I’m getting a bad feeling about this…

    Permira set up a healthcare team in 2008 to pursue opportunities in this fast-growing sector. The team focuses on investment opportunities in a variety of sub-sectors including generics, specialty pharmaceuticals, CMOs, consumer-facing medical technology businesses and diagnostic companies. The healthcare sector represents 3% as a total of the Permira funds’ private equity investments since 1997.

      • Maybe my attitude is different from most people’s because I have always done research for nonprofits. We shared data but always kept their sources confidential. I do think the companies who have our data are safeguarding confidentiality. They have nothing to gain by violating it and would only discredit themselves and be out of business if they did. So, then what other damage could they do? I have no copyright on my chromosomes, so if they want to copy them or sell them, that’s fine. (That was a joke.). I’m hoping they do conduct research and learn something, since learning is my foremost interest. If they end up making money from what they learn, I’m okay with that too. They aren’t taking money out of my pocket for their research. Most research does come out of our pockets, indirectly, through NIH or NSF grants. So, if they can do it with our donated data, that’s fine with me.

        • Hi Jeri, Well I understand what you mean. I have a feeling that “big brother” is watching us and sorting us into groups. I may be crazy, but someone is always trying to capitalize on public information. Happy New Year and be well.

          • Well, Linda, I figure Big Brother doesn’t have any more power than we give him. The more information he collects, the more likely he’ll smother in it. Do you ever worry about Carbonite backing up your computer files for you? Now that does have potential for abuse. Anyway, I worry more about the weirdos running around with guns. Have a Happy New year.

          • Yes, I don’t want to give Big Brother the “power”. I don’t even know what carbibute is, I must live in a bubble. I don’t even let the program I have now back up my files because everybody wants to renew a charge and I don’t like to use the computer to pay for stuff. I send out check still. Yes I worry about guns too and strangers, but I am not a recluse. I do run errands and drive about but in Denver there are places you just don’t want to go, so I don’t have anything to do outside of my own little neighborhood. In the Spring I want to travel around a little bit and go to Salt Lake city to search archives with my niece from California. She is interested in our family genealogy too. I love to drive and see other states, I guess I must be part Gypsy too! I have lived in Colorado for about 10 years now and I haven’t even seen a desert! My sister and I planned to do these things when I retired but she passed away from Lukemia about 5 years ago. My bone marrow couldn’t help her. We used to go camping in the mountains and traveled across the country in her van, sleeping in the back at night. See, we are Gypsies!

          • I know. Well, our ancestors were adventurous. I tried to tell my folks that, but they never understood the “out of Africa” concept. I’ve been on all 7 continents and hiked/camped on all except Antarctica. Well, it’s in my genes, somewhere. I have lots of deja vu experiences that are very similar to one another. So I keep wondering where I REALLY live. I looked at a YouTube on Ossentia and listened to the music. I really connected. My Dad’s Y-DNA is G, of all things, so we may have a connection way long ago in the Caucauses. Besides, some of my GEDMatch models include genes from that area. Of course, we can make any shoe fit, can’t we!

          • Oh how wonderful, that you traveled all over the world. I wish I could have done that but now my knees are jhurting and I am “old”. Do you mean Ossetia music? I love the Russian influence, I remember going to my grandmother’s Russian funeral and the priest looked like Rasputin and about 6’4′. The music was very grim and you could imagine the “march-type” funeral procession. Now what is the “G type” Y-DNA about? I haven’t learned that. I have a distant yearning to study up on the Caucauses and the surrounding area. I think we can make any shoe fit because that middle eastern area is the cradle of civilization, isn’t it? I can’t wait for Spring so I can start to investigate. I don’t mean I will travel to Europe but I can at least travel around the states and I still have a 2nd cousin Zena in her 80s who can give me information. Her mother was not the sister of my grandmother, figure that one out. Sometimes when I talk to her I feel there is a mistery about her mother and my grandmother. I don’t know what it is but I can feel something. She is a sweetheart and I think if I talk to her face to face I can understand some things.

          • I think that Africa was the cradle of civilization, and the Middle East the cradle of farming. But who knows what any of that really means. Those expressions were created for political reasons, I’m sure. The Y-DNA haplogroup G is Middle Eastern, or so they say. I got my brother tested. Since my father’s line is English and Irish, chances are the G fellow arrived with the Romans. But again, we make the shoe to fit our guesses and beliefs.

            I guess it’s okay to post this. I found it and just love the music and scenic images:

          • Geri, I didn’t see anything attached in that last transmission. If you can send me the attachment again and I would love to hear the music and see the scenes. Tx

          • I just looked up Ossetia on the web and read the information about Georgia and Ossetia being separated. I also saw the name Abkhazia, which makes me think. My grandmother was about 93 when my mom brought her to live with us because she could no longer be alone. Because she could not read or write and had a very strong broken-english accent, Plus the fact that she no longer had her teeth, we had trouble asking her for information. I asked her once where did she come from in the Ukraine and it sounded like “Zarslavia” but it could have been Abkhazia for all I know. Very interesting. My Haplogroup has some strong ties to the middle east and Iran as I said before. I wish I knew!!!!!

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  32. I was surprised that my DNA showed no Scandinavian at all especially since my grandfather’s family came from Lubeck, Germany which is near Denmark and my grandmother’s family was a Scottish clan originally descended from a Norwegian who shipwrecked in Scotland in the 9th century. I show 12% Eastern European Ancestry, tantamount to a first great-grandparent but there is no knowledge whatsoever of any Eastern Europeans in my ancestral background. Like a sucker I purchased the international version of Ancestry to see if I could locate any Eastern Europeans but couldn’t. My DNA map was also very heavily British Isles, and I expected more German from what I know of my grandparents and great-grandparents.

    • Debbi, you’re not a sucker to purchase everything that Ancestry has to offer for constructing your family tree. 12% Eastern European is actually not very much, and I think it’s misleading to try to convert it to the equivalent of a single great grandparent. For example, you may have had tiny bits of different Eastern European ancestry going back many thousands of years. Eastern Europe covers a broad area and different people from different parts moved westward and northward (and probably other directions too). There was constant migration. Some of those unrelated Eastern European ancestors probably moved into present-day Germany (or maybe Scandinavia). As for movement into Scandinavia, I don’t know enough history even to speculate. But you can find it by Googling. Some of the Wikipedia articles are very informative. Remember that Scandinavia was under a thick sheet of ice for thousands of years, and before that… it was populated. This article is very interesting!

    • I keep saying DNAancestry has Scandinavian and British Isle results mixed up in some way. You should have been given the results which they gave me, which I am quite skepical of .. 50% Scandinavian..not one Scandinavian in my family tree..and I have gone a LONG way back. They gave me 0% British Isle.. and I should have had a LOT of British Isle. My grandmother was Scotch and English. I really like ancestry’s DNA cousin matching part, and I am matching with many “cousins” who have mainly “British Isle” ethnicity. However, now I am not able to see what other “matching cousins” ethnicity is, because low and behold ancestry has taken the Ethnicity resutls of other “cousins” off the DNA site recently.

  33. All this DNA stuff is quite confusing. Especially when you already have traced your family back until 1700. Yeah, my DNA says European/Scandinavian. So where did our Native American go ? And it shows I’m from a different race, that what I was actually told. So confusing.

    • True, the DNA stuff is confusing. I’ve probably put in a few thousand hours trying to understand it, and that’s nothing compared to the amount of time the experts have spent on it. You’ve traced your family back to 1700, which isn’t very far compared with DNA. The time factor is what causes most of the confusion. The ancestral DNA is telling us about our ancient family migrations. If your family tree is traced back to medieval England, for example, that’s totally consistent with a Scandinavian ancestry. Vikings were in England as well as northern France (Normandy). The Normans were also Vikings. The English are quite a mix. If you had Roman ancestors in England, as most of us probably do, then they brought MIddle Eastern genes into the mix. If you can download your data and then upload it to GEDMatch, you will have an exciting time looking at the different models that fit your data. There is no single right answer to our ancestry mix, only possibilities that “fit”. People did move around, and the scientists studying this stuff are not time travelers. They have to use samples of present-day people who best represent the ancient groups from whom we evolved.

        • I know that GedMatch was working on this, but I don’t think it’s ready for prime time yet. You’ll have to contact GedMatch to ask, but until you see a link on their home page for Geno 2.0, I would assume they aren’t ready.

          • I just learned you can upload your Geno 2.0 results to FTDNA, and then upload those to GEDMatch.

          • Jeri, I just read your last post …..So you know how to upload data…….please let me know. I haven’t even gotten my latest test results from 23andME but I would love to upload one to the other. Thanks

          • Linda, Go on to Scan down the page to Upload Your Data Files. Just follow their directions. They are very clear.

  34. Okay, thanks Roberta, It is just son confusion to me with all the websites that pop up when I am looking for something. I can get involved for hours with this stuff. I just sent NatGeo a message regarding this.

  35. Thank all of you who posted. I too took Ancestry’s test this last fall and my results showed 81% Scandinavian, 14% Southern European and 5% unknown. Some of the paper trail shows I have ancestors from Wurtenberg Germany and the British Isles and yet neither area shows up in Ancestry’s results. I called them thinking there was a mistake since I have a very, very common last name and there was an error. They asked some questions, put me on hold and said its me alright. So I was suspicious and still am. More so after having read all of this. Though I can’t prove it two other cousins & I believe our surname came from SW Scotland and yes there was some Viking influence and I expected some but not that much. Well anyway I’m going to try another company and see what happens. Is 23 & me or Family tree the better choice? Which one(s) do you all recommend?

    • You can get two for the price of one. Order the one at 23andMe for $99. Then for $89 you can upload the raw results to Family Tree DNA. That way you can get both for less than the price of the test at Family Tree DNA.

      • Thank you for the information. As far as the DNA testing goes I’m really most interested in the “deep ancestry” to give me insight into which regions of Europe my family has the strongest ties. I will say this for they did help me find a cousin whose paper trail and mine do converge. There is very little doubt that he & I are connected. Thus I think they have value in helping you find cousins. But beyond that I’m still leery.

      • Ah, Roberta, you will not get the SAME analyses. For example, FTDNA can give you the full sequence mtDNA test, and it alone costs $299.. If you are interested in your direct maternal line, you really need it. Check out the other tests offered by FTDNA. There’s a reason they cost more. I’ve done both FTDNA and 23andme. You can never have enough information. Even with all there is to offer by all companies, you’ll still be scratching your head and wondering how it connects with your family tree,

      • Yes, I believe that is the case.. the “cousin matching” result part of the DNA is working out very well for me… I have been able to find many, many shared matches with “distant” cousins in the low and very low confidence part. So many “shared ancestors” in the distant cousin part.. that I am beginning to believe that ALL of the “cousins’ who match me are probably really “cousins.” But some I just can’t figure out where that pesty “shared ancestor” is. I have extended my family tree in some cases just to find that “shared ancestor” in common. It is jsuch a fun game. BUT, the ETHNICITY RESULT part of the DNAancestry – I am very, very skeptical of. I think they have a hugh problem there somewhere. So many people who should show Scandinavian ethicity are showing British Isles ethnicity and people who should be showing British Isles ethnicity are showing Scandinavian ethnicity. There has to be something incorrect. It’s doesn’t help to make excuses. Yes, the King has no clothes. No matter what the excuses.. it just doesn’t make sense. People who are sure they should show a lot of British Isles are showing a majority of Scandinavian and people who are sure they should be showing a lot of Scandianaivan are showing a majority of British Isle. Things seem “twisted.”

    • I searched Family tree and they do have the ancestor’s names who came to America and family members from the 1600’s, although I am not sure if they are direct relations or just a family of the same name. Not sure what to think. I am really trying to find out still which would be the best website for my search.

    • Brad, you’ll get different interpretations from 23andme and from FTDNA. Part of the challenge is to learn enough history to realize why that happens. At least, that’s what it took for me to come to terms with it. There were Scandinavians in England (called “Danes” by the English, in particular, the eastern region called Daneslaw. Then there were Normans, and although they had acquired French names, they too were Vikings. We have a lot more Scandinavian/Viking ancestry than we realize from our paper trail. My mother has always been told she looks like a Norwegian. No Norwegian in our 1000-year-old history back through England and Ireland. But when I uploaded her data to GEDmatch, and did the chromosome painting, there it was– Norwegian. This stuff is full of surprises. What is important to remember that your DNA is being compared with the DNA of people living in those regions TODAY. There are no time travelers in this game.

      • Hi Jeri, Thank you for your response. I too have read enough history to come to the same conclusions but was and still am surprised at the high percentage. I will take yours and Roberta’s advice regarding the other two. Funny you remarked about looking like a Norwegian. In my Dad’s family there is a strong tendency to have a very light complexion and for blonde and blue eyes. So I’ll guess I’ll see when I use the other tests.

        • Hi Brad. Remember that looks can still be deceiving. I have two nephews–brothers– who look like they come from different parts of the planet. Their personalities and abilities are totally different too. Their parents get quite embarrassed at people’s comments. One day my brother showed me his ear and said, “They both have this little notch on their ears, like mine.” It’s very humorous, but also something to keep in mind about phenotypes.

  36. Ancestry told me I am 99% British Isles and 1% unknown. They are sending me matches with people who have NO British Isles. I have writtne twice to complain, but they never respond. I’m trying national Geographic next

      • It is very confusing trying to understand why different companies give different interpretations. It is not the results that are different. You can check that by uploading your data from different companies to GEDmatch and seeing that they match each other almost perfectly. (They will not be perfect if based on different saliva or cheek swab samples, but they are very close.) FTDNA and 23andMe, for example, may give extremely different interpretations of your ancestry, and GEDmatch will give you a lot of different models to work with. Remember that your ancestors’ locations changed over time, as they migrated all over Europe. 23andme claims to give you your ancestry as it was 500 years ago. That will be different than it was 100 years ago (according to your family tree) or 10,000 years ago.

        Now the subject of matches is a different issue. They are matching your chromosomes with other people’s chromosomes. The longer the segments, and the more segments, you have in common with someone else, the more likely you are to be closely related. I don’t know what offers for chromosome matching (since I wasn’t tested with them), but FTDNA and 23andme both provide the tools to compare your chromosomes with those of your matches. That’s what matters, not what countries their ancestors came from at some time in recent or distant history. People kept moving! That’s very important to realize. Someone who came from England 200 years ago had ancestors who came from somewhere else, sometime earlier. They weren’t sitting on the ice when it was three miles thick.

        It takes a long time to learn how to work with these data! Don’t just call the results wrong. They are just one piece of a much bigger puzzle.

    • I had a similar problem with some matches and called. So they told me these were matches that were on the cusp of being similar to me. However I noticed that this started happening very frequently last time I looked. Maybe their algorithm has gone wacky……. Needless to say it seemed pointless. Everyone is scandinavian????

      • My objective is to find matches. They can call us any nationality they want as long as they find me some matches who are as interested in tracing family history as I am.

        • Tom, I have about 700 matches, and have only confirmed one in my family tree. It takes lots of cooperation on the part of the person with whom you match. Patience and persistence. Good luck.

    • I am getting many, many “shared ancestors in common” with other “cousin matches.” I usually have to go into the “cousins family tree” and my family tree to figure out who the “shared ancestor in common” is. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it isn’t. The results of the ‘cousin matching” part has more than paid for my $99 purchase. I am very, very happy with that part of the DNAancestry results (the DNAcousin matching results). However, I still am very, very skepical of the ETHNICITY result part of the test. I think it is wayyyy off. I think they are having problems confusing British Isles with Scandivanian, etc. .NOW I NOTICE THAT DNAancestry has quit putting the ETHINCITY RESULTS of the “matching cousins” on the DNAsite. A person used to be able to look at each matching cousins ETHNICITY results. Does anyone know why they have done this? Are they tired of getting messages asking “that if a persons DNAancestry show 99% Scandinavian why they are “matching” with so many “cousins” who have 99% British Isles?? and Visa Versa?? Does anyone know why DNAancestry has quit putting “matching cousins” DNA results one the DNA site?

      • Judy,
        I’m like you in that I’ve had good luck adding to my family tree by finding cousins whose family trees connects to mine. So I’m happy about that and think does fine that way. I’ve come to believe that they are messed up regarding the ethnicity. I agree with you that they are having a hard time seperating British Isles from Scandinavians. But historically speaking I can see where that would be a problem considering that the Anlgo-Saxons, Jutes and Vikings were all Germanic to begin with. I suspect that they are tired of comments/complaints and that is why they are changing.

        • Do you know, or does anyone know, what period of time the ethnicity refers to? Is it 500 years ago, 1,000, or much longer. That’s what makes the difference in the interpretation.

      • I called ancestry and emailed them about the suddenly missing ethnicity results and at first the customer service person told me it was a browser issue which I know wasn’t true because a perfectly formed gray box was showing up where the results should have been. He then logged into my account and behold on a different browser he got the same result. He told me that he was unaware of the problem until I called and said that he would alert development. It is hard for me to believe that I was the only person that saw it. I have been sent an email that they are working on it.

  37. I received my Ancestry DNA results last week and have over 200 family trees that I’ll spend the rest of my life sorting through. In my case, this DNA test is a last ditch effort to find my biological father and his lineage.
    I do think that my ethnicity is correct at 48% Central European, 35% British Isles and 17% Scandanavian. Since I have done much of my known maternal line, I can verify the locations as correct.
    I do know that I’m searching for a needle in a haystack, but I’m hoping that this works. Since I have no name, but only a location of where and when I was born (along with the circumstances), I realize that I need a rather large miracle in order to find my paternal heritage. Ancestry has provided me some sense of hope – I at least feel like I’m doing something to try and find my family. Even if it’s a lot of busy work.
    If there is an easier way, please let me know. I’m open to any suggestions 🙂

    • Jane, there’s no EASY way, so far as I know. I did my tests on Family Tree DNA and on 23andMe, and I’d recommend that you do those too, in addition to Ancestry. The more info you have, the more matches you will have, and the more likely you will be to answer your questions. Since you do not have your father’s YDNA data, you will have to rely on autosomal matches. I believe there are groups on the DNA testing websites for people who are adopted, and you can contact them.

      I happen to have a very close match with a man who had no idea who his biological family was. We started to pursue it, and then he backed off. Very frustrating. But the point is that it is possible to find your father’s line if someone in his line has been tested. That’s the big “IF”. If nobody related to him has been tested, then you are out of luck until someone does get tested. You also should upload your data to GEDmatch. I don’t know where Ancestry stands on that now, but with the other two companies, you download your data from them once it has been processed, and upload it to GEDmatch. Then you will have even more potential matches — all the people who used all the testing companies.

      I think you will find help on the websites and don’t have to work it out entirely on your own.

  38. Historically Great Britain was populated by Germanic and Scandinavian people. Think about the Battle of Hastings in 1066, Harold and Tostig Godwinsson were the children of a Danish Lord. Remember how often the Danish invaded England during the time of Edward the Confessor, etc. At one point Cnut the Great a Danish King was creating earls in England. There was a large Scandinavian population in England. When William the Conqueror became king, then men from Normandy populated England, and their names became Anglicized. William the Conqueror descended from Rollo who himself was a Norse nobleman.

    When they test DNA it’s not based on the names you find, it goes several generations. If the Y chromosome remains unchanged from father to British Isles? Knowledge of history goes a long way in helping people not only understand their own heritages, but the development of the countries from which they came.

    • Correction if the Y chromosome remains unchanged from father to son, wouldn’t it make sense that the British Isles has Scandinavian DNA?

        • Using the term Y chromosome was more of an example to show how DNA is traced back from many many generations. However that does not negate the fact that your DNA comes from a wealth of generations going back. If you are of an English background for many many generations there is no logical way you could not have Scandinavian DNA in the mix. In fact on the History Channel right now the show is talking about how the VIking’s conquered England.

          • Since the Vikings had so much of an effect on England–and on the rest of Europe as well–you may be interested in a course offered by The Great Courses. They offer an excellent and lengthy course on the Vikings. They also have other good history courses that have helped me to understand my ancestry.

          • However, we have English people who have NO English reported in their admixture. While some amounts of Scandinavian could be justified, the amounts they are suggesting are unreasonable.

          • If you look at your admixture results from AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, and 23andMe, you would think they are all entirely different people. Add the Gedmatch models, and you can be whoever/whatever you want to be. 23andMe has a new ancestry composition based on the 22-World data. I find it much more believable and acceptable than any other. It refers to where your ancestors were 500 years ago, where mine is mostly “nonspecific Northern European”, though I do get 8 percent French and German, and some other specific European areas. Our ancestors got very mixed together in Europe. Most, but not all of them, did not sit for thousands of years in the same village marrying cousins. Their DNA is not purely anything.

      • Lynn, Yes! They have Scandinavian the way you describe AND they had Viking invasions, AND they had Norman invasions. The Normans were also Vikings who had landed in France. So not only was Harald a “Scandinavian,” but so was William the Conqueror!

    • That’s true, but it’s unlikely that someone from the British Isles has NO British DNA – and this test isn’t measuring the Y chromsoome – it’s measuring the combined ancestry of all of your ancestors.

      • Isn’t the admixture DNA test a combination of both sides, mom and dad. If that’s true then the test would find DNA from all generations. England’s DNA has plenty of Scandinavian DNA. That’s a historical fact, it doesn’t mean that a person does not have an English heritage, it just means that early on some folks came from Scandinavia.

  39. What exactly is British DNA? Particularly if the isle was populated by those who conquered it. Saxons (Germanic), Scandinavians and Normans who also had Scandinavian DNA. Scientists have even determined that Celtic DNA has Iberian origins.

    • Good question. There isn’t British DNA. You can add Romans, Picts, and others. In Bryan Sykes’ book called Saxons, Vikings, and Celts, he talks about who the Celts were, with the word origin coming from Greek, referring to outsiders. I find the book hard to follow. It’s not so clear as Seven Daughters of Eve. I think a good course on English history is called for.

      • I didn’t want to throw the Romans in there but they were in control in Britain for a long time. You are right knowledge of history helps a lot with genealogy.

        • Lynn, yes, It not only helps, but I find it essential. History was never my strong subject, and now I’m having to learn it if I want to make any sense out of my genealogy, recent or distant. My Dad’s Y-DNA is G. I looked that up and eventually someone told me it had to have come into England with the Romans who brought slaves from the Middle East. It was the only explanation that made sense. Who knows!

      • That is actually two questions. My comment on British DNA was in reference to the AncestryDNA test. They have a British category as well as a Scandinavian category. Unlike the other testing companies, they have not released their reference populations to us, so we can’s see what they have determined is “British” DNA, but rest assured, they do have that category. The larger question is what you’re referring to, and that is exactly why we need to see the reference populations. Ancestry needs to be much more transparent. They have been widely criticized throughout the industry for these erroneous calculations. To date, all we’ve seen is a message that they will be “adjusting” them as times goes on. The other testing companies have all shared reference populations, allowed downloads and provided tools, none of which are provided by Ancestry, not even in light of the fact their calculations have been proven over and over again to be not just improbable, but impossible. Or maybe this is why they won’t release that data. Instead they tell people to use their search tools to look for their missing ancestors. Hmm……

        • I’ve heard the same thing about the “new kid on the block.” I haven’t done my test with Ancestry for that reason, though I do have my family tree there. But my Population Finder results on FTDNA are quite bizarre. So I’m taking it all with a grain of salt.

  40. I received my results from in December. I was also surprised to find some Scandinavian – I was skeptical about the other percentages as well. In January, though, I received my results from the Genographic Project, the Southern European matches the Mediterranean almost exactly (47% to 48%), and the Native American is almost exact also (10% to 12%). The only major differences are that Ancestry has me at 31% European Jewish and 8% Scandinavian, and The Genographic project has me at 23% Northern European and 18% West Asian….hmmm (If you add each group they are in close range to each other). Maybe that is the Jewish and Scandinavian that Ancestry is picking up?? How could I confirm that? It seems to me, that the general percentages confirm each other other for both tests. So, in my case, Ancestry doesn’t seem to be too far off. Btw, my Y line is R1b, so I can’t confirm the West Asian or Jewish through that line, and the mtDNA is A2 – no luck there either. Suggestions from more experienced Genealogy explorers??

    • Those are great questions. I’m addressing some of that in my latest series that has just begun, The Autosomal Me. You’re doing all the right things. You could also test at 23andMe who also provides percentage and then transfer those results to Family Tree DNA who provides ethnicity percentages as well. You can download your 23andMe results to GedMatch and use their admix tools to explore further. Ancestry does not provide a raw data file, so you can’t do it from there. Nat Geo does, but GedMatch doesn’t yet use those files, at least not that I’m aware of.

    • Andrew, I think all of us are struggling with the same questions. Each company is giving us different results in terms of ancestry composition. Part of the reason, I think, is the time period to which they are referring. 23andMe specifies 500 years ago. That’s where your ancestors were 500 years ago (supposedly). I don’t know what time period Ancestry, or Geno 2.0, or FTDNA refers to. Clearly, if it is 2,000 years ago, or 20,000 years ago, the results will be very different. I think we all need to ask them to clarify the time frame and demand that they be up-front about it. Certainly it makes no sense to try to understand our family trees in terms of these results.

  41. Pingback: The Autosomal Me – Testing Company Results | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  42. I got different results from and family finder. found 22% Scandinavian. I am not aware of any Scandinavian ancestors. Family Finder did not find Scandinavian DNA.

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