New Ethnicity Estimates at FamilyTreeDNA

FamilyTreeDNA has released a new set of ethnicity estimates. In this iteration, FamilyTreeDNA has defined 90 population groups, significantly more than the previous 24. A map showing the new groups is in FamilyTreeDNA blog post MyOrigins 3.0 is Here!

Here is an example of the new results, for myself:

FamilyTreeDNA Origins version 3

Here are my previous results:

FamilyTreeDNA Origins version 2

The new results look similar to what is found at the other major testing companies like Ancestry, 23andMe, and MyHeritage. One interesting difference between by new and old results is that previously, I had about 28% British Isles, but now I have 25% Great Britain plus 44% Ireland. That’s a lot of Irish, way more than my paper trail shows. The overall results are all European, which is good. Testing companies ought to be accurate to at least the continent level. But the sub-groups seem a little skewed, especially that Irish.

Recently Ancestry DNA made news with their new ethnicity estimates. Whereas new FamilyTreeDNA estimates can skew Irish, Ancestry results can skew Scottish. Of course, it is expected that the testing companies will update their results as the science progresses and allows them to make more accurate predictions. It is difficult to test people today and use that to predict where people lived hundreds of years ago. Not every upgrade will give better results for every person. But the results overall should be headed in the right direction.

One way to get closer to your actual ethnicity results is to compare them across companies. Each company uses a different formula to create your results. If results at multiple companies agree, that gives more confidence in the results. A test at Ancestry or 23andMe can be brought to FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage without taking another test, so I often suggest doing that to have access to more matches and the other ethnicity results.

I find it encouraging that FamilyTreeDNA is indeed investing in improving their ethnicity estimates. Here’s hoping your kit benefits from this latest update.

Happy researching!

Posted in DNA

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