Friday, 9 July 2010

23andMe Ancestry Finder

There's an interesting new experimental facility for 23andMe clients which aims to help you discover what countries your ancestors might have lived in.

The facility uses responses to 23andMe's "Where are you from?" ancestry survey which asks you the country of birth for each of your grand-parents. In my case all four grandparents were from the UK.

For any significant segment of DNA on which you match another person's DNA, and who has also taken the survey, it lets you know their grand-parents country of birth.

In my case there are no matches for about 9/10ths of my DNA, only 1/10th has a country of origin assigned. In descending order these: Russia (3.3%), Poland, Ukraine, Germany, UK, Romania, Hungary, France, Austria, Netherlands.

My guess is that the prevalence of countries from continental Europe is a reflection of the origins of one of my great-grandparents in Amsterdam, and a biased sample in the 23andMe database including disproportionate numbers of Ashkenazi Jews. I can imagine that my DNA cousins from Russia or Poland will be equally surprised to find they have UK ancestry because of their match to me.

Two other blog posts relating experience with Ancestry Finder are at http://bit.ly/9DxQaB and http://bit.ly/bj2aVH

Ancestry Finder is a work in progress which should improve as the database gets larger and is expanded to include more distant ancestors than grandparents.

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