Oh yeah, you read the title right.
I (Ariana) have been obsessed with discovering my ancestry and getting to the root of it all since we started our DNA journey earlier this year. So on one average Sunday (September 30, 2018), it was no different. I was just checking the ancestry website like I normally do, about once a week, and there it was, a little message on my computer screen notifying me that there have been some changes and my DNA results may reflect those changes.
We were completely shook. What does this mean for our results?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with AncestryDNA, it’s a tool. Well, more accurately, it’s a DNA kit that determines where you’re from in the world. We aren’t scientists or experts so we’ll just leave it at that. We wrote a blog post back in June where we go into detail of our original DNA results.
DNA results may change as AncestryDNA receives better data and methods.
We always knew that our results could change on any given day, but we were shocked at the change we saw in our results. Considering how fast technology is growing, we would like to mention that we aren’t shocked at the thought of change, we’re shocked that change could mean something different for our DNA results and even how we view ourselves.
Since receiving our original results, there has been zero change to our results. So we figured they wouldn’t change much. We were wrong.
Let’s find out what has changed.
Before we get into what’s changed, we first have to share our original results. These were the results we received on June 1st, 2018. They haven’t changed at all since that date. Let’s take a look at what those results were.
Hannah’s original results:
Hannah’s revised results as of September 30, 2018:
Ariana’s original results:
Ariana’s revised results as of September 30, 2018:
As you guys can see, a lot has changed and we don’t know how to feel about it.
Since we’re having a slight identity crisis, we’ll explain how we feel about all of this individually now.
I’m completely shook. As you guys can see above, I went from being 28% Nigerian in my original results to 1% Nigerian in my revised results. I was just checking Ancestry’s website like I do every week, so I wasn’t expecting such a major shift in my results. Sure, maybe one day, but not 4 months after my initial results.
Ancestry’s results were confusing. How was I 28% Nigerian one day and 1% the next?
I kept loudly asking Hannah “where’s the Nigerian?” Hannah was washing the dishes so she was like”hold on, what? what do you mean?” she grabbed her laptop after me basically begging her to check her own results to see if her’s had changed. I was feeling a bit crazy. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? They clearly weren’t.
Once we decided that it wasn’t a mistake, I started freaking out even more because I spent the last 4 months trying to figure out how to interpertate my original results, which was a lot for me because I was looking at a list of about 15 locations. My results were all over the place and I didn’t know how to identify myself. Am I Nigerian? Am I from Ghana? I don’t know!
My revised results brought me more clarity.
Prior to this AncestryDNA update, they didn’t have enough data to tell me if I was from Ivory Coast or Ghana. This made me feel incredibly overwhelmed. What is the point of a DNA test if I can’t even get an answer to which country I’m from?
With this update I felt like I was given brand new results that looked nothing like my original results. Like most confused people do when they have a bunch of questions, I wandered into the FAQ section of the Ancestry website to get some information on what the hell I was looking at and why.
Here is a direct quote from Ancestry’s FAQ section on their website about closely related ethnicities and how they they can now better pinpoint where we’re from even if the countries are close together.
“The DNA of people from closely related regions can be very similar, making it more challenging to tell them apart. Since we can now look at DNA in longer segments than we did in the past, we are better able to identify differences in DNA in closely related regions.” – Ancestry
This made me feel a lot better. My results looked so different because they now have the tools to give me specific locations. This is a huge improvement from my more broad answers thats I had originally received.
By using AncestryDNA’s map (this is a map that is shown with your DNA results to highlight where your DNA is found) I was able to give myself some clearer answers.
Here are some screenshots of how that map looks for my results. I am assuming the bright yellow being more likely and the more faded yellows being less likely.
Using their map, my revised results simplified read as such.
- The Congo 35%
- Benin 31%
- Ivory Coast 9%
- Mali 7%
- Senegal 2%
- Nigeria 1%
- Ireland 6%
- France 6%
- Italy 2%
Native American: 1%
All in all, I realized that my result percentages may have changed drastically, but these were countries that were already on my original results.
These countries didn’t just show up on my report out of the blue, if you compare my original results to my revised results, the original results were more broad while my the revised results even shaved off some of the locations off of my report.
Ancestry is a powerful tool and it gets better with time.
In just 4 months, I went from a long list of 15 locations to 9 locations with specific countries where my DNA is found. I didn’t have that before, before it seemed like my results were saying “your DNA looks like it comes from here, but we’ll have to look further”, while now I feel like my results are saying “okay, so we looked further and we’re pretty sure your DNA is found in these locations.” After a slight identity crisis, I was able to accept my revised results. But I’m still on edge. Will I wake up tomorrow with completely different results?
Honestly, I feel like my experience was the opposite of Ariana’s. Instead of getting more clarity, I feel like my results just got a lot more vague!
While before, I had about 55% of my DNA linked to “Europe West” or Northwestern Europe, I still felt like I had an answer for that from 23andMe, who had linked most of that percentage (40%) to the Netherlands. Since then, my results with 23andMe changed as well, telling me I was less Dutch and more Scottish/Irish. Fair enough, at least I still had concrete answers. But now with Ancestry I’ve gone completely broad again!
I was hoping that this update would tell me whether my DNA was Scottish or Irish, or how much of either one I was. While some parts were more specific (namely, finding out my Scandinavian was Norwegian and finding out where my 1% African was from) the vast majority was even more broad than before.
Looking at my map doesn’t really answer any questions either.
While the brightest spot covers England, Wales, and France, there is also a lot of room for me to be more Irish and Scottish than my new 11%. There’s also some confusion with the way regions are now divided for me. For example, Irish and Scottish used to be grouped in with Wales, and that percentage was practically 30%. Can I predict that I’m 20% Welsh then? Basically, I have a lot of questions.
The other rings are equally as bright as the center circle, which is not the case with Ariana’s results. Does this mean that my results are just as likely to contain more Scottish and Irish? What about the Dutch, German, and Belgian areas? Basically, I’m confused.
Mostly, the update didn’t tell me anything new.
It just said that I’m pretty much entirely made up of DNA from this region in yellow. Hopefully, a new update will come out that will be more specific for the regions in Northwestern Europe, because I’m really curious about how this 86% will be distributed. Will I be mostly Irish and Scottish? Welsh? Will my Dutch be nonexistent?
I guess all we can do now is stay tuned for the next update!
Until next time,
Ariana & Hannah