10 Things to Do With Your DNAPrint, renamed AncestrybyDNA, Test

birdcage

Please note, AncestrybyDNA is NOT the same as the AncestryDNA test sold by Ancestry.com.  Both CeCe Moore and David Dowell have written about this in their respective blogs.

Back in 2002 (no, that is not a typo,) a new product called DNAPrint was introduced by a company then called DNAPrint Genomics.  It provided you, in percentages, your percentages of 4 ethnic groups: Indo-European, East-Asian, Native American and African.  Family Tree DNA remarketed this test for just over a year but ceased when they realized there were issues.

It was the first of its kind of test ever to be offered commercially, and version 2.0 utilized a whopping 71 ancestrally informative markers, according to the user’s guide delivered with the product.  The next version of the test, 2.5, titled AncestrybyDNA included 175 markers, and a third version, which I don’t believe was ever released, was to include just over 300 markers.

In 2002, this was a baby step in a brand new world.  We, as a community, were thrilled to be able to obtain this type of information.  And of course, we believed it was accurate, or relatively so.  However, the questions and ensuing debate started almost immediately and became very heated.

The company’s representatives indicated that East-Asian and Native American could be combined for those without a “Chinese grandpa” and that would have given me a whopping 25% Native American.  Even then, before pedigree analysis, I thought this was a little high.  My East Asian was shown as 15%, Native American at 10% and Indo-European at 75%.  For reference, my real Native results are probably in the 1-3% range.  Keep in mind that we were all babes in the woods, kind of stumbling around, learning, in 2002 and 2003.

Interestingly enough, I found the answer recently, quite by accident, to one of the burning questions about Native American ancestry that was asked repeatedly of Tony Frudakis during that timeframe, then a corporate officer of DNAPrint, and left unanswered.  In Carolyn Abraham’s book, The Juggler’s Children, which is a wonderful read, on page 55, the answer to the forever-hanging question was answered:

“When I finally reached Frudakis, that’s how he explained the confusion over our Native ancestry result – semantics.  The Florida company had pegged its markers as being Native American to appeal to the American market, he told me.  But it was accurate to consider them Central Asian markers, he said, that had been carried to different regions by those who migrated from that part of the globe long ago – into the Americas, into East Asia, South Asia and even southern Europe – finding their way into today’s Greeks, Italians and Turks.  ‘We may do ourselves a favour and change the name of this ancestry [component] in the test,’ he said, since apparently I wasn’t the only one baffled by it.”

So, now we know, straight from the horses mouth, via Carolyn.

Of course, since that time, many advances have occurred in this field.  Today, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, Ancestry.com and the Genographic Project utilize chip based technology and utilize over half a million markers to achieve ethnicity predictions.  If DNAPrint, renamed AncestybyDNA was the first baby step, today we are teenagers – trying to refine our identity.  Today’s tests, although not totally accurate, are, by far, more accurate than this first baby step.  Give us another dozen years in this industry, and they’ll be spot on!

For 2003, when I ordered mine, DNAPrint was an adventure – it was exciting – it was a first step – and we learned a lot.  Unfortunately, DNAPrint under the name AncestrybyDNA is still being sold today, currently owned by the DNA Diagnostics Center.  If you are even thinking about ordering this product, take a look first at the Yelp reviews and the Better Business Bureau complaints.

I don’t regret spending the money in 2003.  Spending money on this outdated test today would be another story entirely – a total waste.  The results are entirely irrelevant today in light of the newer and more refined technology.  Unfortunately, seldom a week goes by that I don’t receive an e-mail from someone who bought this test and are quite confused and unhappy.  The test has been marketed and remarketed by a number of companies over the years.

So, here are some suggestions about what might be appropriate to do with your DNAPrint or AncestybyDNA results if you don’t want to just throw them away:

  1. Line the bottom of the birdcage.
  2. Use to light the BBQ grill or camp fire.
  3. Use under boots in the hallway in the winter.
  4. Shred, then use as confetti.
  5. Cut into strips and use as bookmarks.
  6. Use as scratch paper.
  7. Use in the garden between rows to minimize weeds.
  8. Make into a paper airplane.
  9. Roll, along with other excess paper, into logs for the fireplace.
  10. Frame, and display along with your other antiques.

Yes, it’s really that old and outdated!

29 thoughts on “10 Things to Do With Your DNAPrint, renamed AncestrybyDNA, Test

  1. Thanks for the article. Haha, what I did with our AncestryBYDNA 2.5 certificates is frame them, number 10. They’re reminders of how far the science has come. I can not believe that DNA Diagnostics Center is still operating this test. They have changed the name, while the website is still called “Ancestry BY DNA.com” the test itself is now “DNA Origins”.

    Who has seen the Lopez Tonight clip with Larry David and the “37% Native American”? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_qFVE9BFJM

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-smolenyak-smolenyak/playing-with-dna-is-larry_b_402795.html

  2. I never did that test but I did spend nearly $300 on DNA Tribes where my top matching population was Finnish. I’m half Ashkenazi Jewish and half colonial American (primarily British Isles and German). I may have some small amount of Scandinavian but unless “Finnish” is a branch of Welsh or Ashkenazi ancestry, I’d mark that down as a waste of money – even for 2005.

    • Yeah, DNA Tribes (which has a SNP analysis now) and Consultants are still around trying to convince people that their CODIS marker tests can actually predict ancestry and (especially consultants)charging outrageous prices for them!

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  6. I think you guys have a misunderstanding of the limitations of the old AncestrybyDNA test. It is not that it is inaccurate – a textbook (“Molecular Photofitting…”) I wrote shows precisely how accurate the test is with respect to what it reports – its that the test is looking at a deeper slice of the human family tree than you folks would prefer. It is looking at the older “roots” from when populations had just expanded out of Africa (whatever you want to name them- this topic is discussed at length in the book). If that is not what someone wants ,then by all means, that test is/was not for them, but keep in mind it was designed to report on more ancient ancestry not recent ethnic levels of ancestry The former of these has social and ethnogeographical implications, showing just how connected we all are in the human family tree, in ways you may not appreciate from “traditional” geneaology which is usually focused on ethicity. I do agree that the test should NEVER be marketed as suitable for persons seeking detailed ethic information, and I am very unhappy to hear that this is the case. Most of the Yelp complaints are on the breadth of the test results – the depth into the human family tree we were assessing – and this shows that the market for these tests are at the ethnic level not the level we were operating at, at that time.

    Tony Frudakis, Ph.D.

    • Hi, Dr. Frudakis. I have heard of your title “Molecular Photofitting.” I first became aware of it through a convesation with Dr. Mark Shriver in 2008, but never had a chance to get it, in part because of the price (so far, a Google search shows it to be $89.95 at the lowest).
      I do think that DNA Diagnostics Center probably should pull the plug on the Ancestry By DNA test.
      It’s great to actually see a pioneer in genetic genealogy and one of the creators of one of the earliest genetic genealogy tests speaking on genetic genealogy and specifically on that particular test after so many years. Thank you for your post.

      • Thanks for your response. For those that are more interested in deep rather than ethic ancestry, the test is perfectly fine as shown ad-nauseum in my book, but most lay-people do not understand the difference. What they want is ethnic genetic testing, and as such, you are right, they should be buying other tests. But that is not to say that there is no value to an understanding of deeper ancestry, which the current crop of ethnic DNA testing products do not provide. Its like a magnifying glass or a microscope.- you chose the lens based on the level of detail you want. That being said, I do applaud you and your readers for your thoughtful interests in this important area. In many respects, you all (as were we), are part of one of the largest of all genetic experiments to date (the reconciliation of genetic with traditional genealogy, on multiple levels of analysis from deep or ancient ancestry to recent or ethnic ancestry). Keep up the good work and good luck! Tony.

      • Thank you. But one last final thing, if you can’t answer, that’s fine. Can you say if you’ve had any experience with the new crop of companies testing, like 23andme, ancestryDNA of ancestry.com, Centrillion Biosciences’ Tribecode, Family Tree DNA’s tests, Geno 2.0 Next Generation (or the previous Geno 2.0), or whatever other test from whatever other company that’s out there?

        If you can’t answer, that’s fine.

      • Yes- of course. They are doing what we did, but looking more at the leaves and branches of the human family tree rather than the roots. Back in the 2000s looking at the leaves was much more difficult and expensive than it is now, and also, we had reservations about highlighting ethnic differences in people rather than showing common roots which are interesting in other ways, and not as “dangerous” (witness the past 100 years of inter-ethnic level conflict throughout the world).. You have to keep in mind these were the early days of DNA testing. By analogy, I wouldn’t suggest to a car enthusiast to discard the model-Ts, or even the work trucks of their collection in favor of just the modern sports cars. Each has its own value and use.

        Tony

      • Also just to clarify even a bit further -note that AIMs (Ancestry Informative Markers) were in the old days selected for its information content with respect to a particular level of genetic analysis (e.g. Irish vs. English, or Northern European vs. Southern European etc., or European/African/Asian etc). These are different slices of the human evolutionary tree. Nowadays huge marker sets are used that have good information content for all the various levels, but the analysis has to be done on each level to provide information about each level. For example, a set of 100,000 randomly selected markers may very well have more information about continental level analysis than our original 180 or so AIM panel did, but the way these test are run today – driven by market demand – is for the finer levels of analysis (ethnic). 23andMe would very likely do a better job at continental level analysis than we did back in the old days but they dont as far as I know do their analysis at that level.

        This does not mean that the older tests that were developed for deeper level analyses, and extensively characterized with respect to these analyses are “junk” or should be used as lining for bird cages. But I do not hold it against you or the others that do not know this to be true – it is one of the problems that one experiences when trying to develop a trail-blazing product that is extremely technical for a lay-audience, and one of the reasons we no longer exist. Yet suffice it to say that the deeper levels of analyses were very, very useful for the inference of anthropometric traits of use to forensic scientists as evidenced by the many successful case-studies. That is, the deeper connections between Amerindians and Central Asians had some value for the ascription of certain physical characteristics and it follows that if there was value for these traits, there obviously was a human population genetic relevance of potential interest to deeper level genealogy questions.

        But you are correct that most people are interested in finer distinctions, and it is not proper to advertise a deeper level analysis for these finer levels. the current crop of large marker sets and methods are best suited for that – and in fact would almost certainly be better at even the deeper levels if they were analyzed and characterized for these levels. In this, I as well as my team at DNAPrint take some measure of satisfaction (in that we helped stimulate the genesis of these products). Also as I mentioned, I do applaud your thoughtfulness in this important area – it helps educate the lay person about the subtleties of human genetic variation such that they begin to appreciate that all is not as it seems from anecdote or even recent written history.

      • Thank you. I myself don’t regret having experience with the “old test” Ancestry BY DNA 2.5. We had it done in 2012, but I had been doing research on it since 2006 though I was aware of it in 2003, when in November of that year, it was featured on an episode of ABC Nightline with you and Dr. Mark Shriver about a principal from I believe California who grew up believing he was African American (I believe “Louisiana Creole” specifically) but the test said he was the other categories and 0% African. Since this was in 2003, that would have been an earlier version of Ancestry BY DNA and not the “2.5” version that came out around 2005.

        Since then, we’ve had experience with just about every other admixture test: African Ancestry’s “myDNAmix” (a more obscure but like a slightly updated version of Ancestry BY DNA), 23andme, ancestryDNA from ancestry.com, Facebook’s “Genes for Good,” and most recently, Centrillion Biosciences’ Tribecode with Geno 2.0 being the only one we’ve so far missed out on (we did most of these companies for reasons other than just the admixture).

        It has been fun seeing the different ethnicity results on each company, and how the tests have evolved and refined over the years.

        On the passing of Louisiana serial killer Derrick Todd Lee earlier this year, I’ll also commend you for helping out with at least a handful of cases in being able help narrow down unknown suspects with the “DNA Witness” (using the Ancestry BY DNA for forensics)
        I’m not sure why that can no longer be used, but I did read on the web that this company is kind of like the modern day version of that https://snapshot.parabon-nanolabs.com/.

        I’m glad to have been able to talk with you just like I was when I spoke to Dr. Shriver back in 2008. Thanks.
        I’ll be on the lookout, either on Youtube or the HLN channel, for a “Forensics Files” episode you were in (I saw you were in at least one but Derrick Tood Lee was not the suspect in that one I saw).
        I think you’re doing something in water treatment now, good luck in it.

  7. Just as one example, knowing that someone is 80% Nordic or Scandanavian and 20% Italian or Mediterranean tells them nothing objectively (assumption, or prior-information free – which could be flawed) about the common ancestors they may have had with other Central Asian diaspora that differentiated tens of thousands of years ago (to Europe, Americas etc.) . One has to use well characterized markers that provide this deeper level of information to show these types of connections and these are quite likely to be different markers than those that provide the highest information content for ethnic stratifications (as outlined in detail in my book, and others in the field of population genetics).. Since they are working with so many markers, the chip – based companies could easily do this – there would most likely be plenty of markers with this type of deeper level information content, if they took the time to find and characterize them as such, and then demonstrate their precision and accuracy (using various methodologies such as those I outlined in my book), but they are doing what the market wants – ethnic testing . The typical customer we found is a typically “white” lady who wants to substantiate her Native or Indigenous American ancestry and couldn’t care less about her connection to other Central Asian diaspora. Though it is too bad that these people buy AncestrybyDNA not understanding they are not buying what they want (and this still somehow needs to be corrected), it does not mean there is no value to deeper level testing. If microscope objective lens production was strictly limited to that which was most popular – say 99% of the customers want 20X – then when you wanted an 80X lens you’d be frustrated you couldn’t find one).
    .

  8. Roberta,
    I’ve just seen this article about the court decision to let DNA Diagnostics Center keep using the name “Ancestry by DNA.” While I do think it’s bad that there’s been plenty of folks who have been fooled into thinking that there were purchasing a Groupon deal for ancestry.com’s ancestryDNA but instead were getting a terribly inaccurate, outdated, and basic test, at the same time, I don’t disagree with the court decision because of the fact that not only has the name “Ancestry *by* DNA been around a lot longer than “ancestryDNA,” but DDC has been using the name before ancestry.com came out with a similar name.

    http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/federal-court-upholds-dna-diagnostics-centers-use-of-ancestry-for-dna-testing-and-rules-that-ancestrycom-caused-marketplace-confusion-300261320.html
    Obviously, DDC and Groupon should clarify in the ads that their test *ISN’T* ancestry.com’s test, though.

    Now in the article, it says in the penultimate paragraph, “DDC will launch its newest ancestry DNA test in 2016, utilizing an advanced autosomal-based large SNP array and a proprietary algorithm to provide unmatched specificity of one’s ancestral origins.”

    So DDC is having a new ancestry test. Have you read of that elsewhere? Do you or any of the other insiders have any info on it? I did ask DDC this and am waiting for them to get back to me if they will, but just curious to see if you or other insiders might know something about it that DDC might not say.
    I’d like to know whether this will be either saliva or buccal swab (like FTDNA’s tests, which are much easier to do than saliva, plus with swabbing, there’s probably less chance of sample failure), and if there will be a raw data upload/transfer feature like FTDNA has. Thanks.

      • Alright. If this is true, I wonder why now after all these years, since it was late 2009 when they started doing the old DNA Print test. I wonder if they’ll call it “Ancestry by DNA 3.0”

      • They just said, “Hello,

        DDC is very close to launching our newest product and are very excited about releasing information to our clients. We are planning a launch this summer, and will post more information on our website as we have it available for release. Please continue to check our site and thank you for your interest in our testing!

        Regards,

        Max”

      • Given the substandard test they were willing to sell for all these years, I’d be very hesitant to ever trust their ethics or products.

      • I asked DDC yesterday for news on the new test. They said that it is out now and showed the link

        https://gpsorigins.com/

        I’d like you and some of the other genetic genealogy bloggers to look at this for an opinion before I and others buy it. Just left messages to Blaine Bettinger and Richard Hill to see how they might find this new test.

        There is a comparison chart between this test and other companies’s test on the bottom of the page.
        It says it uses a cheek swab, which is good, and it says it allows raw data from other companies like 23andme or ancestry.comDNA which is also good.
        It also says it tests more genetic markers than the other companies, at 800 thousand.
        But one thing that has me really wondering is that it claims to analyze
        “500 + ” reference populations.
        More than 500 references???

        And weird new sounding things like “migration routes” and “DNA event dates” Don’t know what they mean by that.

        Good to see something new and something that I can upload raw data to instead of having to submit another sample, which in this case wouldn’t have been too bad because it’s a cheek swab instead of spitting, but I’d like for you folks to check this out and let me know how they were able to get over 500 reference populations like they claim and other things before I and others spend money on it. Thanks.

      • People who have taken this found their balloon in the middle of the ocean. I’ll not be wasting any money on this. The man who “developed” this methodology is behind DNA.Land and then they rolled that product, people didn’t even match their own family. Consequently, I don’t have much confidence.

  9. so what is the best DNA product to use to get accurate DNA testing? I’m interested in finding out my true, accurate heritage and ethnicity. I have heard many stories from my childhood that I’ve since found out by my own family history are untrue. A grandmother told me she was born in sicility, and that her grandparents were from southern Italy. My grandmother was born in Chicago and her parents were born in Northern Italy. On another side, I was told that my family is from Germany, but I can’t find any records of any ancestor born there. Some were born in the Swedish countryside and changed their name, others were born in the deep south and stories were passed down that they were slave owners, but my research has shown they were either slaves or illegitimate children of slaves. I’m very confused and knowing where to look for my true ancestors would really save me some time!

    • I’d say do all three of the major companies if you have the spending money: 23andme, ancestry.com and then upload to FTDNA.

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