Over the Next Several Months, AncestryDNA Customers May Receive Updated Ethnicity Estimates and That’s a Good Thing

The team of scientists at AncestryDNA have increased the company’s reference panel to more than double its previous size with DNA samples from more places around the world, resulting in the latest update to AncestryDNA ethnicity estimates. In short, with more detailed data to work with today, the company can now provide more accurate locations of your ancestors. This means there may be some changes to the results you received earlier.

The expanded AncestryDNA reference panel helps deliver even more precise regions in West Africa, northwestern Europe, the Americas, Oceania, and Southeast Asia.

Quoting from the announcement in the AncestryDNA Blog:

“For example, previously we had North and South America as two large regions: Native American–Andean and Native American–North, Central, South. With this new update, we are able to refine the areas into 11 smaller ones. If you received one of the older regions before, your new report will most likely have one of the newer, more precise regions instead like Indigenous Eastern South America, Indigenous Cuba, and Indigenous Americas–Mexico, among others.

“While not common, some customers may also lose a small percentage region as a result of this update.”

You can read the full announcement in the AncestryDNA Blog at: https://tinyurl.com/eogn191021.


I actually deleted all the kits, my tree and account in part because this update is another less accurate one. Other reasons I deleted were because Ancestry is more in the business of selling your data and DNA to various other companies, such as pharmaceutical, Health insurance and life insurance companies.


I’m perplexed, my mother was Swedish, with a dash of Finnish, while my father was YANKEE, never west of eastern New York and back to 1620. Now I’m 75% Scandinavian, split between Swedish and Norwegian. On Ancestry’s DNA testing, I’ve gone from 16% Swedish, to 62% Swedish, to 62 % split between Swedish and Norwegian to now 75% (44% Swedish, 31% Norwegian).
How did I gather so much Scandinavian? Is it just showing that almost all my ancestors were Viking?


I manage 4 DNA kits on Ancestry DNA, and have access to view 2 more. All of them have wildly changed ethnicity estimates that make no sense whatsoever when considering the actual genealogical records. I don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s not an improvement. My Slovak percentage dropped dramatically (I used to be almost 50-50 with German and Slovak, with a bit of Dutch thrown in, which tracks the records). Now I’m low 20% Slovak and almost 70% German. I think the issue is that most people in Slovakia aren’t doing DNA testing, so they’re database doesn’t have enough data for that area.


My husband tested with FTDNA 37 Y and Family Finder. I put his results on Ancestry, where I also have an account. I have him on my tree, where I also have his uncle, who did test with Ancestry. I also have access to his uncle’s account. Why has it never shown on Thru Lines that my husband is related to the people his uncle is related to? What are you doing with my husband’s information?


    Interesting that you were able to upload your husband’s DNA from FTDNA 37Y to Ancestry as I understand they don’t have this ability to import DNA from other companies nor do they do the male “Y” DNA or the female “mt” DNA at all. Of course, this could be why he doesn’t show up as you are describing.


    I found a completely seperate family line on my father’s side. Turns out his dad, wasnt his dad, which I’m in no way implying or insinuating for your family. I know though that high mortality rates, death of a father before birth or in the childs infancy occasionally led to a new husband being listed as the father.
    I’ve learned that while each parent gives 50% of their DNA to each child. Fathers only give a Y to a son since women don’t have Y-dna.
    There’s no guarantee that two children will get the same halves from each side. A good example is my maternal grandmother and her twin. They were fraternal, but, as full blooded sibs, one unexpectedly was born with an extremely pale, albeit pretty complexion aside from average brown hair, the other having a complexion of coppertone tan. This was to the point of my great grandmother being accused of having an affair. She didn’t. They both had their fathers eyebrows and wideset eyes.
    Ireland for example, has part of its population with its closest genetic relative as the Basque in what’s now Spain, allowing for a darker complexion in part of the population. Or, a Scottish genealogy, but Scandinavians, Angles, Jutes or Saxons as opposed to indigenous(ish) such as the Picts who were more stalky and rounder faced than the above mentioned Scandinavian and Germanic settlers (invaders?).
    A mitochondrial DNA test though, may help since everyone gets it from mother’s and its a copy that is virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Men can also do a y-dna test which is similar in accuracy but for men only of course. (I assume you know most of this, but genetics are so complicated at times, I can understand the frustration.
    Have you ever downloaded your raw DNA files? Its an option for ancestry, 23, and others.
    I put mine into “gedmatch” and while all should be taken with a grain of salt, it can help explain migration patterns that could account for the DNA variability. And ethnicity changes you’re seeing.
    A last thought is that country borders changed so often in the past 1000 years that where we are from may not reflect out migration origins. I think ancestry can trace only about 10-11 generations.
    I apologize for the lengthy response, I have a mild obsession with genetic history. 🙂 all the best!
    PS: Yankee is likely to have a northern European base history and surrounding areas. I have a few lines from the mayflower and subsequent ships. Dutch mainly, British Danish and Norwegian.


Hi Barbara, It was something Ancestry advertised that you could do with DNA from several companies. Now I wonder what they wanted it for…just to expand their knowledge of tracking DNA? I have not received any assistance from them, unless they are helping others with more information about Thru Lines. As I said, with my membership, I do see his uncle’s Thru Lines. I wish I knew.


    Hi Mary, The other DNA companies/sites will import the raw DNA from each other except for Ancestry, which is why I tend to recommend people start with having their DNA done with Ancestry so that either for free or a smaller cost they can transfer that raw DNA (only autosomal DNA) to places like MyHeritage, GedMatch, FT-DNA etc. However, that said, the mt and Y DNA are only done with FT-DNA and can’t be transferred to any of the DNA companies.
    One also needs to understand the Thru Lines – which have a great benefit – but aren’t perfect. Anything with a dotted line around them are suppositions, not 100% proof. They are using DNA as well as trees to suggest possible connections – and if trees are wrong, one should check the DNA link to ensure it is a true match to ones own research.
    Hope this helps.


The last time Ancestry updated ethnicity it was just about spot on for me, now large chunks of the obvious ethnicity are missing. I realise ethnicty is just a ‘bit of a laugh’ and goes back thousands of years, but my first estimate was ridiculous compared to known ancestry, the second just about correct and now it’s all gone pear-shaped again!


The ancestral ethnic component of Ancestry DNA are not what I focus on. I contact my matches and/or compare their trees with mine and see if we have common ancestors. For those who do consider the ethnicity results important and find you have ancestry that isn’t what you expected…royal and noble families of Europe intermixed quite a bit. Maybe you are descended from some of them? Aside from that historically there was probably way more cross-migration than can be kept track of. It’s not unusual to me that some of that will show up in the testing and some if might not.


Got my original result in Jan 2018 (63% Native American, 23% European, 14% Asian), updated in Aug. 2018 (78% Native American, 22% European), and my current result is at 77% North American Native, 23% European, very pleased with my result, too bad all you guys aren’t what you thought you were lol


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