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Thread: My Family Member's Strange DNA

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    My Family Member's Strange DNA

    A somewhat close cousin, although one who has ancestors that I do not share with him, took the Ancestry DNA test.

    When I was comparing my results with his I saw something strange, under his trace regions it was listed that he had ancestry from European Jews, the Caucasus and Southern Europe.

    In my trace results I had Finland/Northwest Russia and Western Europe.

    Our family comes from Scotland. I don't understand where he got his Caucasian and Jewish ancestry from, even if it is relatively small.

    Why did it not show up in my DNA results?

    And how would a Scottish person have Jewish and Caucasian DNA? The family paper records show that it is a Protestant family.

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    Trace regions aren't reliable.

    Regarding Caucasian/West Asian, it's often from very old deep ancestry too. Basically, it's part of the normal admixture for someone from Europe, but if it's a bit higher than average (which doesn't necessarily mean anything about ethnic origin), you might get a trace percentage.

    Jewish ancestry isn't that uncommon for someone not Jewish. It could mean a long ago ancestor converted and intermarried with gentiles. Or -- and the likely answer if he doesn't get lots of Jewish matches -- it could be the result of the test trying to make sense of results that are just a bit different than the average for someone from your overall ethnicity (probably similar to your Finland/N Russia).

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    Quote Originally Posted by msmarjoribanks View Post
    Trace regions aren't reliable.

    Regarding Caucasian/West Asian, it's often from very old deep ancestry too. Basically, it's part of the normal admixture for someone from Europe, but if it's a bit higher than average (which doesn't necessarily mean anything about ethnic origin), you might get a trace percentage.

    Jewish ancestry isn't that uncommon for someone not Jewish. It could mean a long ago ancestor converted and intermarried with gentiles. Or -- and the likely answer if he doesn't get lots of Jewish matches -- it could be the result of the test trying to make sense of results that are just a bit different than the average for someone from your overall ethnicity (probably similar to your Finland/N Russia).
    Thank you very much for your response.

    'Trace regions' are the same as 'low confidence regions' are they? Did Ancestry change the names at some point?

    Is it possible that the proportion of DNA from trace regions would enter into actual regions if this cousin's father and grandfather were tested?

    And what percentage of European populations have this Jewish ancestry?

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    By trace regions I just mean areas where you get 1-2% (which if you look at the range could easily be 0%).

    Yes, I think one way to look at whether it's real is to see if there's a pattern with your parents. For example, if I get 1% Native American and my parents get 1% I think it's more likely to be just noise than if one parent gets 0% and the other gets 2.5% or some such.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Learning_Genetics View Post
    A somewhat close cousin, although one who has ancestors that I do not share with him, took the Ancestry DNA test.

    When I was comparing my results with his I saw something strange, under his trace regions it was listed that he had ancestry from European Jews, the Caucasus and Southern Europe.

    In my trace results I had Finland/Northwest Russia and Western Europe.

    Our family comes from Scotland. I don't understand where he got his Caucasian and Jewish ancestry from, even if it is relatively small.

    Why did it not show up in my DNA results?

    And how would a Scottish person have Jewish and Caucasian DNA? The family paper records show that it is a Protestant family.
    Can you post the full results for them and for yourself so we can see the percentages for your others regions? Did it give you both Ireland/Scotland/Wales for the rest of your results?

    Generally speaking seeing Caucasian results along side Southern Europe results isn't surprising. I'm roughly 50% Italian in my paper trail and I come back with some Middle Eastern or Caucasian pretty reliably. My uncle who is about 75% Italian comes back with both Caucasian and European Jew.

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    Quote Originally Posted by msmarjoribanks View Post
    By trace regions I just mean areas where you get 1-2% (which if you look at the range could easily be 0%).

    Yes, I think one way to look at whether it's real is to see if there's a pattern with your parents. For example, if I get 1% Native American and my parents get 1% I think it's more likely to be just noise than if one parent gets 0% and the other gets 2.5% or some such.
    I saw a thread on the Ancestry.com forum where someone got lower percentages in Ancestry trace regions. Roughly 3, 2, 1 percent. But when they put it through GEDmatch it went to around 5 %, 7 % and 4 % etc. Is this also a possibility?

    What I find unusual is that I did not inherit any of the Caucasian or Jewish genes. My DNA profile according to Ancestry.com is fully European.

    This cousin of mine is grandson of the half brother of my paternal grandfather. I wonder if the Jewish and Caucasian DNA came from ancestry that I don't share with him.

    But then we know that DNA inheritance is random, so it is possible that this cousin got DNA from the same source as I did, just I didn't inherit the Jewish and Caucasian DNA but he did.

    Quote Originally Posted by euromutt View Post
    Can you post the full results for them and for yourself so we can see the percentages for your others regions? Did it give you both Ireland/Scotland/Wales for the rest of your results?

    Generally speaking seeing Caucasian results along side Southern Europe results isn't surprising. I'm roughly 50% Italian in my paper trail and I come back with some Middle Eastern or Caucasian pretty reliably. My uncle who is about 75% Italian comes back with both Caucasian and European Jew.
    Sadly I can't really get their results.

    But mine are:

    36% Eastern European
    26 % Scotland/Ireland/Wales
    22% Great Britain
    14% Scandinavia
    1% Finland/Northwest Russia
    1% Europe West

    It's strange I don't have any non-European admixture but this family member does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Learning_Genetics View Post
    I saw a thread on the Ancestry.com forum where someone got lower percentages in Ancestry trace regions. Roughly 3, 2, 1 percent. But when they put it through GEDmatch it went to around 5 %, 7 % and 4 % etc. Is this also a possibility?
    This is why Gedmatch can be misleading. I recommend using one of the calculators with a spreadsheet first, as you can compare your results to the average from different populations (and remember that there's always a range, so being above or below the average doesn't mean you aren't whatever it is).

    For one example I recall off the top of my head, SW England averages about 5% W Asian on the K13 Gedmatch calculator. So someone with, say 7% might be enough above average that they get (oversimplifying!) 98% Great Britain, 2% Caucasian on Ancestry, and then look at Gedmatch and see 7% West Asian and think "Ancestry missed a lot of my Caucasus ancestry." But in reality it's extremely typical for someone of English ancestry to have a certain percentage of West Asian, and being a couple of percentage points more or less than the average is probably still within the typical range (and even if it indicated something about ancestry it could just as easily mean a great-great-great grandparent from Austria or the like, where the W Asian percentage tends to be a bit higher).

    So this is why I say you have to be skeptical with trace percentages (and make sure you compare Gedmatch results to a variety of average populations).

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    Oh, to add to that, Ancestry seems to give the trace percentages to account for higher than average results in some areas -- Caucasian is an easy one since it's West Asian. So someone 100% English who is just on the higher end of the range could get it, someone with an mixture of some other ancestry with a bit higher W Asian could get it (my Austrian example from before). Depending on how the mix works out, you could easily have more West Asian than your cousin, but since you have a significant amount of Eastern European the algorithm could be subsuming it all in there, instead of breaking it out separately, as (for example) southern parts of Eastern Europe tend to have higher amounts of West Asian within their average results than the British Isles. Or, of course, it could be from a different side of the family or just inheriting slightly different bits -- you really can't assume much from such tiny numbers which you may not even see on other tests.
    Last edited by msmarjoribanks; 05-16-2018 at 04:13 AM.

  11. #9
    I have to agree with msmarjoribanks. Trace regions are not reliable and can often mislead people. You can't take them seriously.

    I've spent weeks now searching for Middle Eastern ancestors in my family tree because I score Middle East trace regions. AncestryDNA shows 1% Middle East, FTDNA shows <2% West Middle East, GEDMATCH shows 3% Red Sea and 6% East Med. I have yet to find legit evidence of Middle Eastern ancestry though. It is frustrating, because you want to know ALL of your ancestry, even the small bits, but often those small bits are not real.

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    Quote Originally Posted by msmarjoribanks View Post
    This is why Gedmatch can be misleading. I recommend using one of the calculators with a spreadsheet first, as you can compare your results to the average from different populations (and remember that there's always a range, so being above or below the average doesn't mean you aren't whatever it is).

    For one example I recall off the top of my head, SW England averages about 5% W Asian on the K13 Gedmatch calculator. So someone with, say 7% might be enough above average that they get (oversimplifying!) 98% Great Britain, 2% Caucasian on Ancestry, and then look at Gedmatch and see 7% West Asian and think "Ancestry missed a lot of my Caucasus ancestry." But in reality it's extremely typical for someone of English ancestry to have a certain percentage of West Asian, and being a couple of percentage points more or less than the average is probably still within the typical range (and even if it indicated something about ancestry it could just as easily mean a great-great-great grandparent from Austria or the like, where the W Asian percentage tends to be a bit higher).

    So this is why I say you have to be skeptical with trace percentages (and make sure you compare Gedmatch results to a variety of average populations).
    Am I correct in understanding you, that all of these calculators assign different strands of DNA to different population groups, therefore there is room for mistakes and ambiguity?

    And is it normal to have these types of admixture i.e. European Jewish and Caucasus in most European countries? I mean, do they exist all over Europe among lots of people?

    Quote Originally Posted by msmarjoribanks View Post
    Oh, to add to that, Ancestry seems to give the trace percentages to account for higher than average results in some areas -- Caucasian is an easy one since it's West Asian. So someone 100% English who is just on the higher end of the range could get it, someone with an mixture of some other ancestry with a bit higher W Asian could get it (my Austrian example from before). Depending on how the mix works out, you could easily have more West Asian than your cousin, but since you have a significant amount of Eastern European the algorithm could be subsuming it all in there, instead of breaking it out separately, as (for example) southern parts of Eastern Europe tend to have higher amounts of West Asian within their average results than the British Isles. Or, of course, it could be from a different side of the family or just inheriting slightly different bits -- you really can't assume much from such tiny numbers which you may not even see on other tests.
    So the results of these tests don't necessarily indicate an ethnic origin and could in some cases be completely mistkaen?

    Quote Originally Posted by ianz91 View Post
    I have to agree with msmarjoribanks. Trace regions are not reliable and can often mislead people. You can't take them seriously.

    I've spent weeks now searching for Middle Eastern ancestors in my family tree because I score Middle East trace regions. AncestryDNA shows 1% Middle East, FTDNA shows <2% West Middle East, GEDMATCH shows 3% Red Sea and 6% East Med. I have yet to find legit evidence of Middle Eastern ancestry though. It is frustrating, because you want to know ALL of your ancestry, even the small bits, but often those small bits are not real.
    I wonder if it is impossible to find it?

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