Posts Tagged ‘Neanderthal’

Before I took a DNA test, I didn’t know anything about DNA. Now that I’ve taken two DNA tests, maybe I know even less than nothing.

First I took 23andme, as it had been recommended to me. When I got the results, I was tickled to get some health information, but I didn’t take it too seriously. After all, it was fairly general, and it wouldn’t catch any of the thousands of rare diseases lurking out there in some of our genes. It certainly didn’t predict that rare tumor discovered in my foot eight years ago. Nor did it foretell the hereditary lymphedema I have (thanks, Grandma). Then I also found out that even if you have a particular gene, it often takes a certain “something” to happen to trigger an illness.

So I turned the virtual page on the health information and looked at the information which shows what areas of the world my genes come from. A few genes were identified as coming from particular places, such as one gene that 23andme insists is a Polish gene. I also learned that a lot of my genes are “unidentified Northern European.”

They identified my Haplogroup, which is the mitochondrial DNA I inherited through the maternal line, meaning from my mother and her mother and my grandmother’s mother, all the way back. Interesting, but what do I do with that info? The exact classification they gave me I can’t even find online.  Am I the only person with this mitochondrial DNA–well, are my mother and I the only people with it?

Should I order this from 23andme?

Should I order this from 23andme?

Remember how we thought Neanderthal were a totally unrelated species that died out? Apparently they didn’t really die out. I was told that I am 2.6% Neanderthal. The average European is 2.7%. Kind of hard to put your mind around that. I don’t have a lot of Neanderthal traits, having a high, rather than low, forehead, a narrow frame, and am not particularly strong. I’m sure my husband has some joke in this somewhere. But he doesn’t have the guts to take the test himself.

After I got the results of this test, I realized that it wouldn’t “mesh” with the Ancestry.com test results other people have taken. I didn’t know why they couldn’t be meshed, but I accepted that as fact. It seems that it’s because different companies test for different things. I decided to take the Ancestry test as well because I wanted it as part of my family tree on Ancestry in case I had any DNA matches with people whose trees could provide me with leads.

When I got the results of the Ancestry test I was really disappointed. It doesn’t provide anything except general regions your ancestors came from. Not even any specific countries. No medical information.

And the areas my genes come from are quite different according these two different tests. Ancestry claims a large percentage of my genes are from eastern Europe and about a quarter from Britain. Um, no. Their explanation is that this analysis might represent the location of my ancestors thousands of years ago. So what good is that then?

The one good thing that came from my very overpriced Ancestry test was finding an actual Waldeck relative through our matching DNA. Pretty cool, yes? And the fact that we both have a big chunk of eastern European DNA coming up on the Ancestry test points us in the direction of Prussia, so that was helpful. Unless I spend too much time looking back at my 23andme test, which shows a tiny percentage from eastern Europe. Confusing?

Something interesting about both DNA tests: the results continue to change as the companies get more and more information. They collect knowledge from people. This seems pretty hit or miss to me. But it’s kind of cool to watch things change every so often.

Finally, both test results netted me hits from 4-6th cousins, and most of them have absolutely no surnames in common on their family trees. So how is it possible that they are 4th-6th cousins?

Hmm, this science is still in its infancy, methinks.



On the Ancestry Facebook page, somebody posted this information about using your raw data from Ancestry to compare outside their site:

On your DNA page top right is an option to download your raw data. You need to select and then they will email a link with the address on file. Once you have that, you can go to GEDmatch and follow the instructions to upload. Unfortunately, they are not accepting new data until on or about August 15th. FamilyTreeDNA also has the transfer function. Go to their page and scroll down to almost the bottom. FTDNA charges, GEDmatch is free.

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