Amongst hobbyists, one of the most popular reasons to get DNA tested is to find out your ancestral origins, both deep and recent. Yet, time and again when people get the email that their results are ready, they are left surprised and puzzled. Sometimes they don’t match what you believe to be true about your family. Sometimes they don’t match results you already have from another company. Sometimes, they are just downright bizarre.
Like so many others, when I received my original ‘ethnicity’ results from FTDNA, I was flummoxed. Back then, the ethnicity calculator was called, “Population Finder” and it pigeonholed me as being 94% Orcadian and 6.08% Middle Eastern. Middle Eastern, as in…Palestinian, Adygei, Bedouin, Bedouin South, Druze, Iranian, Jewish, Mozabite.
When I relayed my results to my cousin Michelle, I got the reply of, “WHAT??? I didn’t see the Middle Eastern connection coming. I am loving this.”
I didn’t see it coming, either. I was also surprised by the 94% Orcadian. On average we carry about 1% of the DNA of our 4th great grand parents, so I was aware that not everything in our paper genealogy would still be in my genes. For Michelle and I, our 4th great grandparents were born between 1760 and 1820 and the majority of their descendents made their way to Iowa. Generally speaking, the DNA of any ancestor from before that point has been diluted out of our genes. However, we had plenty of ancestors that came after 1820 that that were anything but Orcadian or Middle Eastern.
Michelle continued, “What is most interesting to me is this — Jackie has a “different” look to her, Cassie has a “different” look to her, you have a “different” look. Which of these ethnicities accounts for that, I wonder. What do you think?”
“What do you think?” She asked me that every which way possible, but I didn’t know what to think, so I contacted the creator of Population Finder, Dr Doug McDonald. After all, we are also part Shawnee, although that ancestor entered the tree before the 4th great grandparent cut off. If anyone would be able to sleuth out those or other small percentages it would be Dr McDonald.
After he looked at my raw data the answer came back that Chromosomes 1, 6 and 8 represented some Middle Eastern signals. He concluded I was mostly, “English with a touch of other northern European.” His best fit estimate broke the Northern European into Polish, Lithuanian and German.