The long-anticipated myOrigins update at Family Tree DNA has happened today. Not only are the ethnicity percentages updated, sometimes significantly, but so are the clusters and the user interface.
Furthermore, because of the new clusters and reference populations, the entire data base has been rerun. In essence, this isn’t just an update, but an entirely new version of myOrigins.
New Population Clusters
The updated version of myOrigins includes 24 reference populations, an increase of 6 from the previous 18 clusters.
The new clusters are:
- East Central Africa
- West Africa
- South Central Africa
- South Central Asia
- Central Asia
- Northeast Asia
- Southeast Asia
- West and Central Europe
- East Europe
- Southeast Europe
- British Isles
- Sephardic Diaspora
- Ashkenazi Diaspora
- East Middle East
- West Middle East
- Asia Minor
- North Africa
- North and Central America
- South and Central America
Note that this grouping divides Native American between North and South America and includes the long-awaited Sephardic cluster.
New User Experience
Your experience starts on your home page where you’ll click on myOrigins, like always. That part hasn’t changed.
The next page you’ll see is new.
This myOrigins page shows your major category results, with a down arrow to display your subgroups and trace results.
Now, for the great news! Family Tree DNA is now displaying trace results! Often interpreted to be noise, that’s not always the case. However, Family Tree DNA does provide an annotation for trace amounts of DNA, so everyone is warned about the potential hazard.
It’s now up to you, the genealogist, to make the determination whether your trace amounts are valid or not.
Trace DNA inclusion has been something I’ve wanted for a long time, so THANK YOU Family Tree DNA!
MyOrigins now identifies my North and Central American ancestry, which translates into Native American, proven by haplogroups in those particular family lines.
Clicking on the various subcategories shows the location of the cluster on the map, along with new educational material below the map.
Pressing the down arrow beside any category displays the subcategories.
Clicking on “Show All” displays all of the categories and your ethnicity percentages within those categories.
Clicking on “View myOrigins Map” shows you the entire world map and your cluster locations where your DNA is found in those reference populations.
The color intensity reflects the amount of your DNA found there. In other words, bright blue is my majority ethnicity at 48% in the British Isles.
In the information box in the lower left hand corner, you can now opt to view your shared origins with people you match and share the same major regions, or you can view the regional information.
I’ve already mentioned how pleased I am to find my Native American ancestry accurately reported, but I’m also equally as pleased to see my British Isles and Germanic/Dutch/French much more accurately reflected. My mother’s results are more succinct as well, reflecting her known heritage almost exactly.
The chart below shows my new myOrigins results compared to the older results. I prepared this chart originally as a part of the article, Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages. The new results are much more reflective of what I know about my genealogy.
Take a look at your new results on your home page at Family Tree DNA.
All ethnicity estimates, from all sources, are just that…estimates. There will always be a newer version as reference populations continue to improve. The new myOrigins version offers a significant improvement for me and the kits I administer.
Ethnicity estimates are more of a beginning than an end. I hope that no one is taking any ethnicity estimate as hard and fast fact. They aren’t. Ethnicity estimates are one of the many tools available to genetic genealogists today. They really aren’t a shortcut to, or in place of, traditional genealogy. I hope what they are, for many people, is the enticement that encourages them to jump into the genealogy pool and go for a swim.
For people seeking to know “who they are” utilizing ethnicity testing, they need to understand that while ethnicity results are fun, they aren’t an answer. Ethnicity results are more of a hint or a road sign, pointing the way to potential answers that may be reaped from traditional genealogical research.
If your results aren’t quite what you were expecting, or even if they are and you’d like to understand more about how ethnicity and DNA works, please read my article, Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum.