AncestryDNA changed admixture results

+12 votes
Maybe everyone else is already aware, but i just noticed that AncestryDNA has reconfigured our ethnicity results, and it makes a lot more sense.

I've lost my large chunk of Scandinavian and my tiny bits of Finnish-Russian, Iberian etc.  Now I'm apparently 88% English/Welsh and 12% Scottish, which aligns much better with my known tree - except my French Canadian and.German bits are now missing.

My siblings have been similarly streamlined, though one has 2% Norwegian now (not in our tree but probably some Orcadian connection).

So is this more 'valid' or are they just feeding the conglomeration of all our trees back to us?
in The Tree House by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Pilot (289k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
At about 7.30am UTC time on Friday, I noticed that my 86% British and 5% Scandinavian (plus traces) had become 75% England+Wales, 13% Ireland+Scotland, 10% Germanic Europe and 2% Norway. This was an improvement for me. My ancestry is 56% Continential/Germanic Europe, 25% Ireland+Scotland and 19% English (approx.).

Now my old results have been restored.
Mine are back to the previous version as well.  Whatever, i guess! As Edison Williams says, it really is mostly for entertainment value.

Thanks to everyone in this conversation!

Please check your ethnicity results now--looks like Ancestry has actually rolled out the new version.  

My big chunk of Scandinavian is gone again! Apparently i''m not the only one; check out this answer to their FAQ "how do i get my Viking tattoo removed?"

Answer: We don’t have a business relationship with any laser tattoo removal businesses, but remember: your ethnicity estimate is not a complete picture of your past. So, if you’ve developed a newfound taste for runes and longboats, go ahead and embrace it. (Just be sure to wear a life jacket.)

Yeppers. Debbie Kennett wrote about the changes in her blog a few days ago; might add some insight:

"How do I get my Viking tattoo removed?" Gotta love that from the company that brought us "trade in your lederhosen for a kilt"....  ;-)

6 Answers

+13 votes
Best answer

Hi, Shirlea! Happy GDPR Day!  :-)  While I can't specifically answer your question, I would imagine that our own trees at Ancestry have little to do with the changing sets of genotyped data used (you can read a little more about that here). But none of the testing companies are forthcoming about precisely which data sets and algorithms are used; they all covet that as proprietary information because the flood of testing over the past few years is what's been fueling the financial engine.

They are all in something of an arms race to try to lay claim to having the most far-reaching and specific ethnic origins calculations, so the resulting reports change from time to time (and why AncestryDNA has that little indicator to tell you if your results are up-to-date or whether you should let them recalculate). You can read more about my curmudgeonly opinion at the link above, but I believe with the current state-of-the-art these reports should be, at best, be considered "for entertainment purposes only."

At worst the reports can be misleading and divisive; divisive not only within families around the dinner table, but in continuing to talk about "ethnicity" they reinforce a completely false concept of "race" within homo sapiens sapiens. I'd have a smaller burr under my saddle if the companies would start referring to these as reports of "ancient geographic origins" rather than--as Ancestry does in big letters--"ethnicity." Ahem.

By the way, while your chunk of Scandinavian went away, mine doubled at Ancestry but stayed the same at 23andMe and FTDNA. Go figure. You can see my results at that link above.

by Edison Williams G2G6 Pilot (450k points)
selected by Shirlea Smith
On GEDMatch you can try some of the different algorithms yourself, to see how the results can vary depending on the model.

As a newbie, I found the 23-and-Me result most helpful. I'm still scratching my head with Ancestry, but 23-and-Me gave me all the data from their algorithms in plain language, and some stories about ancient Ursula, and then summarized by saying I'm likely descended from Puritan settlers in New England. Which puts it in a nutshell.
I like the term 'ancient geographic origins'! Any uptake?
Hi Laurie

Yes, the different models certainly can produce varying results!
Thanks for the "best answer" star, Shirlea. Thinking about the "ancient geographic origins" term, even that is probably less accurate than it should be. Maybe just "early geographic origins"? "Ancient" may be implying that we can accurately look back to the Neolithic with our $79 tests. I dunno. One of those very ambivalent issues for me: extremely pleased that the number of people taking DNA tests skyrocketed with the "find your origins" advertising; extremely perplexed that many then believe the resulting reports are supposed to be gospel; whine about how inaccurate DNA testing is when they don't find what they expected, or didn't expect (or go buy that new kilt because the results said they were 41% Irish-Scot-Welsh); and never intended to pursue anything genealogically with the results anyway.  :-/
I really appreciate this answer, Edison. I feel like a curmudgeon among many folks discussing DNA testing where "ethnicity" is the interest, as I mutter "nonsense". I suppose I'd seem less of a grouse if I simply said: "that's entertaining". The marketing of DNA testing is driven by the financial incentives. I suppose we should be happy that the companies we use for genealogical purposes aren't in danger of imminent financial collapse.

Your link leads to a string of follow-up links that are very useful. Thank you.

Thank ya, Douglas. You are more than welcome. I carry my soapbox with me just about everywhere I go...


On the other hand it brings up the discussion of ethnicity and what it might mean and how it has been used. Maybe people will start to see we really are a bit of everything and basically the same. Also they may see how it has been misused to promote tribal animosities.
+8 votes
Mine haven't changed. Maybe they are changing them in batches or randomly.
by Sue Hall G2G6 Pilot (169k points)
Thanks Sue!  Looks like it was temporary, whatever it was.  Only a few hours yesterday.  It did have the usual 'Update' button for when they do this, but now it seems to be back to what is was before.  Maybe it was a glitch or a test run....
+4 votes
Well, my tree says that about 60-70% of my ancestors came from England, often for 10 generations or more, and about 35-40% came from Scotland.  AncestryDNA now says that I am 5% English and 32% from Ireland/Scotland/Wales.  60% from Europe.  Hmmm.  I've found no people from Europe in over 950 direct ancestors.

Maybe I have to start looking at the mailmen.  Or maybe I'm just really bad at genealogy.
by Robin Anderson G2G6 Mach 4 (43.8k points)
BTW, my grandmother was from England, and her ancestors appear to be from England for about 200 years.  This I know, if for no other reason, that I heard her speak.  So I must be at least 25% English, no?

Not sure what to make of the AncestryDNA results.  NatGeo makes me 70% British.
i guess the best view is that at this stage of the science and the data, this aspect is 'for entertainment only'.  It doesn't really make sense yet.

My 23andMe Ancestry composition report includes (in addition to some more specific ancestries) a whopping 29.9% of "Broadly Northwestern European." The description of this group says:

Northwestern European ancestry is represented by people from as far west as Ireland, as far north as Norway, as far east as Finland, and as far south as France. These countries rim the North and Baltic Seas, and have been connected throughout much of history by those waters. Broadly Northwestern European DNA matches several specific populations and is difficult to assign to just one. This shared heritage may be a result of extensive migration, possibly including the Germanic invasions of the early Middle Ages.

Robin's "European" is likely to be similar...

'Zactly. What you can definitively say about "Broadly Northwestern European" is that it isn't Southeast Asian. Otherwise, a whole lot of ancestral migratory pattern wiggle room.  :-)

+5 votes
That's odd. I haven't noticed any changes on mine. Still 46% Southern Italian and the rest a mix of UK/Iberian Peninsula and others. No traces regions for me. Could it have been a glitch?
by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (781k points)
I think it must have been a glitch or a trial run, because it only lasted a few hours at most.
Yep. =)
+4 votes

Just saw this on my own Ancestry Ethnicity Results:

Latest update as of May 2018

Your ethnicity estimate is based on the data we have and the methods we use to compare your results to that data. When AncestryDNA launched in 2012, we compared your DNA against 22 possible regions. Since then, additional data and advances in science have enabled AncestryDNA to identify dozens of new regions and improved our ability to determine how likely it is a region is part of your past. DNA research is a fast paced, rapidly expanding field, and you can expect to see additional updates as DNA science evolves.

Total Regions 166
Reference Samples



 They also seem to have updated the number of regions referenced.


AncestryDNA Regions List

AncestryDNA tests for all 350+ regions listed below. You are linked only to the regions that appear in your estimate. Regions included in your estimate appear in color.

Africa (34 Regions)

America (41 Regions)

Asia (4 Regions)

Europe (289 Regions)

Pacific Islander (3 Regions)

West Asia (4 Regions)

Hope this helps,

by Ken Parman G2G6 Pilot (122k points)
edited by Ken Parman
Yes, maybe when they added all the new regions, all the data recalculated, and i happened to look at a moment when it was not all the way through the recalculation.  Now that it is done with the recalc, i'm back to their previous ratios.  Just a wild theory.
Wild and yet extremely plausible.
Not likely, because the "new" ethnicity estimates had new regions such as Germanic Europe (replacing Western European) and Norway (rather than "Scandinavia). My "old" ethnicity estimate that is showing again is showing Scandinavia and Western Europe again.
That's right, Abm.  I just wandered through the 350+ regions, and none of them was just plain 'Norway'.  I guess we will never know what that was all about!
+4 votes

This is what a customer support person at Ancestry had to say about my experience:

That is a great question. We are rolling out a new update to our DNA results. When we do this, we have to test display issues, and this sometimes causes our members to have a bit of a glimpse into updates. The only problem with this is that we can only see what is currently on your DNA results. We see the original test results, as you advised us, in your message. Hopefully they will be up and ready to view soon.

by Abm van Helsdingen G2G6 Mach 5 (51.6k points)
Very interesting!  Thank you!

Related questions

+9 votes
8 answers
759 views asked Aug 28, 2021 in Genealogy Help by Steve Heininger G2G6 (8.6k points)
+13 votes
4 answers
282 views asked May 9, 2021 in The Tree House by Michael Hruska G2G6 Mach 5 (57.9k points)
+8 votes
5 answers
677 views asked Apr 29, 2019 in Genealogy Help by Deborah Nystrom G2G6 Mach 1 (15.8k points)
+11 votes
6 answers
291 views asked Sep 18, 2021 in The Tree House by Pat Miller G2G6 Pilot (226k points)
+23 votes
13 answers
+35 votes
7 answers
+14 votes
9 answers
864 views asked Jun 7, 2020 in The Tree House by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.7m points)
+20 votes
11 answers
+12 votes
2 answers
+4 votes
6 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright