Ancestry.com has updated their ethnicity estimates once again. Those estimates and the tools with which they are developed are, as Ancestry likes to put it, "constantly evolving." While many of my students seem genuinely amazed—or dismayed, as the case may be—at what their DNA results reveal about who they should think they are, some of them seem to have a hard time grasping one key detail: those results are simply estimates. Scientifically calculated, yes, but still estimates.
Still, I was curious to see what the updated results would yield for my own account. I wasn't really impressed with the last version. While I still have much to learn, for instance, about my mystery paternal grandfather's origins, I have been able to come to the conclusion that if he wasn't, after all, Polish like his wife, his was still a heritage from somewhere east of Germany. Yet, the last AncestryDNA version slighted his percentage, no matter where it should have been placed.
With this latest update, it is encouraging to see the increase in number of reference populations. When AncestryDNA first launched, their offering included populations representing a meager twenty two regions. Now, they compare customers' DNA with samples from more than one thousand regions worldwide. Their reference panel includes nearly forty five thousand DNA samples which "divide the world" into seventy overlapping groups, as demonstrated in this chart provided in Ancestry's explanation of reference panels.
Unlike other bloggers who were keen to compare before-and-after snapshots—I'm thinking of you, Randy Seaver, as well as my Canadian go-to resource at Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections, John D. Reid—I was not quick to snatch a screen cap of the results that were replaced. As far as I'm concerned, good riddance to the former estimate—out with the old, in with the new!
In case you don't share my sour grapes attitude, you can always recapture your former stats by following this advice from Ancestry:
- Go to your AncestryDNA home page
- On the "DNA Story" box on the left of the screen, click on "Discover Your DNA Story"
- On the top right of the next "Ethnicity Estimates" screen, click "Learn More About This Update"
- On the next screen, click "View previous estimate"
You can download the previous numbers in a .pdf version, if you wish, by clicking on that option on the last screen of the series listed above. Don't delay, though; the previous numbers will be available to you for ninety days following rollout of your updated estimates. Hopefully, though, you'll find the newer estimates far more agreeable to your own research.