Don’t Like Your Ethnicity? Wait 5 Minutes

In the past, customers waited with bated breath for ethnicity updates which were labeled with version numbers. Not anymore.

That old weather saying applies – “if you don’t like the weather in <insert location here,> wait 5 minutes.”

Today, there are a lot more vendors today offering ethnicity (who doesn’t?) and the updates often don’t come in a sweeping change, but gradually with smaller partial updates – so it seems like some vendor is always updating something. That’s a good thing and keeps us checking back, which means we can check on new matches too.

Recently, 23andMe made ethnicity changes and today, it’s Ancestry’s turn.

Ancestry now divides their ethnicity results into 500 regions which combined with your matches and where your ancestors were found comprise Genetic Communities.

Genetic Communities

Obviously, Genetic Communities are most accurate if you know where your ancestors were from and lived at any given point in time – but even if you don’t, Genetic Communities are useful, nonetheless, providing hints.

Ancestry ethnicity 1

My overview is shown at right, with the regions and communities shown on the map. A timeline shows below.

Ancestry ethnicity 2

Clicking on 1750 shows the migration pattern from Europe to the US and the communities in the US where the people from Germany settled, for example.

At right, you can see the region stories, but of more interest is the list of my ancestors who were alive in those locations at that time.

Ancestry ethnicity 3

Enlarging the map continues to show my ancestors more granularly. Clicking on a pin shows that or those ancestors in the pane at right.

Ancestry ethnicity 4

Probably not useful for breaking down brick walls, but quite interesting.

Increased African American and Afro-Caribbean Communities

Today’s ethnicity update from Ancestry includes 94 new and updated communities for people of African American and Afro-Caribbean descent.

If this means you, check out your ethnicity results and see what or who might be waiting – at Ancestry and the other vendors too.



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17 thoughts on “Don’t Like Your Ethnicity? Wait 5 Minutes

  1. Ancestry told me that I have 1% native american ancestry coming from South America. They also said that my sister had 2% native american ancestry came from North America. I went to GEDMATCH and ran my kit using the Eurogenes EUtest V2 K15 model. It said that I have 1.52% Amerindian. It said that her Amerindian is 1.99%. Our paternal grandparents were Cherokee and both had Dawes Commission roll numbers. . .

  2. I long ago gave up on expecting anything informative from the ethnicity estimates but I can only shake my head in wonder at my most recent update. Ancestry previously had me at 49% Europe West, 39% Great Britain, and small amounts from Iberia, Scandinavia, the Celtic areas, etc. That is at least reasonable since the British Isles are pretty solid in my tree and Württemburg and Alsace account for one of my grandparents’ lines. That estimate also was generally consistent with other companies’ estimates. But the update just blew my mind . . . now they say 90% Great Britain, 7% Ireland/Scotland/Wales, and 3% Swedish (not just general Scandinavian). I guess the eight or ten generations I’ve tracked in Germany must really be an English enclave from the Crusades . . .

    But regarding the “communities” — can you really say, Roberta, that they told you anything whatsoever that you didn’t already know? Come on, now . . . you know that all they are doing is matching whatever they have on you with whatever they have on your dna matches. Yeah, they have my family migrations down pretty well but maybe, just maybe, that’s because they got most of the information from data that I and/or my dna matches provided to them in the first place. That approach is just fine for those who haven’t done any work on their own but it is laughable for those who have been at the game for a while. It reminds me of the professional consultants who charge mucho money to interview you and then write up and present back to you exactly what you told them. Sigh . . .

    • Nothing new, which is why I said this, “Probably not useful for breaking down brick walls, but quite interesting.”

  3. Pointless. Give me my matching segments or a chromosome browser. I keep telling them in their surveys that I would never test another person through the site until this information is available.

  4. The map of ancestors alive at a certain time seems very interesting. I have not seen such maps in the services I have used, but have thought about how to go about producing such maps from my tree. So far, it has seemed too complicated 🙂

  5. Hello. New to Genealogy.

    Very interesting area of study. Enjoy reading your background articles. Thank you for your efforts. Have drawn heavily on FTDNA because they appear to be the best integration of an academic approach buttressed by a good business model. Have their complete array of studies.

    A number of questions have been raised in my mind from their information but the most interesting to me revolves around the more distant ancestral origins.

    I am R-FGC20234.

    When I started this, as far as I knew, I was descended from Donegal farmers. As the information developed, the Irish contribution got smaller and smaller. Seemed to end up being predominantly English/Scottish/German.

    In the ancient line, I have 2 fascinating SNPs( Z-381 and L-48).

    The first is stated as being the House of Bourbon mutation and the second is the mutation found in James Watson and described as “ the scientist gene”. I do have a scientific background and am a critical thinker but clearly no discernible royal blood. I also hold no illusions about myself and have no dilusions of grandeur but I am curious about and love the Sherlock Holmes aspect of genealogy.

    As I understand it, the SNP is a small single mutation on a single gene on a single chromosome. For all I know, the Z-381 mutation simply means that I have the same eye color of that line and the same brown hair of the L-48 line

    Thus my question: Has anybody done any deeper work looking into what the gene and chromosome of these SNPs actually effect as far as the individual is concerned ?

    Any insights would be welcome. Again, thank you for your articles.

    John Devenney

  6. I was tested on Family Finder DNA It show no Native American but it does show 2% African. Ido know I have some Native Ancestors 6 a 12 gens back. Ihave not found any African. On Gedmatch It show almost 2% Native American and the same for African,My brother has twice as much African and has Native DNA like me. His European ancestors are very different from mine. I have a lot of Italian, amd Spanish, Greek and he has none.DNA land shows me to have Egyptian Dna.

  7. It’s still at the “parlor game” stage for ethnicity, in my opinion. I had considered 23andMe to have the greatest accuracy, but after the last revision, they took away 0.1% of my Native DNA and substituted “Senegambian & Guinean” for that. Yes, I was adopted, and thus, I do not have an accurate tree, but I’ve been doing triangulation on my matches for nearly four years now, and none of the trees for any of my matches have sub-Saharan African DNA, except for the folks who have a recent ancestor in their trees.

    It’s all a guessing game, and sometimes the guesses are ridiculous. The old version of MyHeritage DNA had me as 51% Iberian, and while there are indeed Portuguese immigrants to New France that could have supplied that DNA, the 23andMe figure of 6.5% is probably closer to the truth.

  8. Hey Roberta, just wanted to let you know that the birth and death locations for Jan Ferverda seem to be spelled incorrectly. It’s Groningen and Leeuwarden! I really enjoyed reading about your trip to Friesland so I’m already looking forward to your post(s) on Amsterdam 🙂

  9. Roberta, I very much appreciate the knowledge that you share with all of us, and have a question that is off this subject, if you should ever have time to respond.

    I am currently slowly working my way through 7 of my project Gaston member’s Big Y SNP results in an excel spreadsheet. It seems like I am often seeing a pattern where I will see a “yes +” on a given SNP, then maybe 1 or a few SNPs later, there is a “yes +” for a second member. There seems to be a definite pattern, where of one of them shows up, I can expect to very soon see the other get a “yes” within usually a couple of SNPs later in the list.
    For example, on Skipper got “Yes+” on BY138594,(skip), BY1386, (skip)(skip), and BY138611
    then 4 SNPs down,
    Billie got “Yes+”, on BY14782, (skip), BY14784, (skip)(skip), and By14785

    However, usually the pattern I see is more like:

    Skipper gets “yes+” on BY10859, then skip down 5 to Billie is “yes+” on BY1086
    and they always seemed to be grouped in the same step down pattern where Skipper gets one or more “yes+” then soon afterwards, Billie gets the same.

    Then there may be dozens or hundreds of SNPs before the pattern repeats.

    I am wondering if it is possible that they are actually matching on the same SNP, but due to some imprecision in the process, it gets reported as two different SNPs, or perhaps there is another explanation for such a pattern that happens over and over.

    Thank you,
    R.H. (Skipper) Gaston

    • I’m not clear what you mean, but each man that does match will match on the same derived SNPs. In between, there will be many that aren’t.

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