myOrigins amended: FamilyTreeDNA’s latest admixture update

photograph of tree rootsFamilyTreeDNA just updated their myOrigins admixture mapping tool this week and my ethnic estimates have definitely changed.

When I initially tested, myOrigins broke down my ethnicity as follows:  31% Ashkenazi Jewish, 4% Middle East, 22% Scandinavian and 43% British Isles.

Those results initially had me puzzled.  But the update also leaves me with some confusion.

Updated ethnicity

FTDNA’s update now has my ethnic makeup as being 30% Ashkenazi Jewish, 39% British Isles, 20% West and Central Europe, 5% Southern Europe, 4% Eastern Europe, trace results in Finland, Southeast Asia and South Central Africa.

This certainly aligns better to my extensively researched genealogy paper trail.

However, I’m not sure why I no longer show Middle East ancestry (since my Grandpa was a Levite that admixture result made sense).  And I really don’t know what to think about the trace results. Noise, perhaps?

I’m especially curious (and kind of excited) about the African trace result… I’ve read that it could indicate an ancestor with African heritage 7 generations back (5th great grandparent). It just so happens that I do have a few brick walls right at that generation on my maternal grandmother’s line.

Noise… or not?

Since my paternal aunt shows no such trace results, I am assuming that if this trace lineage is correct and not noise then it is from my mother’s side – specifically from her mother’s paternal line, in which colonial American ancestry predominates.

But even though I can’t seem to get further back than those brick wall ancestors, I do actually know a good deal of information about each of them. Records indicate that it’s not just unlikely, but downright impossible that any of them were black. If they did have African lineage, it surely must have come from a few more generations back for them to be able to “pass” as white. Would that even show up as a trace amount?

I think the only way to know for sure is to convince my Mom to test.

Of course, there is the chance that this African ancestry could come from my Dad’s side, passed from him to me and recombination leaving my aunt with no trace.

There are two more recent brick wall ancestors on my paternal line who I know next to nothing about. Their origins are not merely uncertain (as are my maternal line brick walls), but unknown.

Unfortunately, my Dad is deceased.  My aunt is his only sibling.  If this trace lineage comes from his side of the family tree, then it absolutely would come from my paternal grandmother. Luckily, one of her first cousins tested, but she also showed no trace African heritage.

But my gut feeling is that this trace amount could actually be derived from my Jewish ancestors.  Or is just noise.

In the end, recombination, migration and the limitations of test populations make it unwise to put much stock in the accuracy of autosomal DNA admixture reports.


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