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Photo by North Carolina National Guard / CC BY

This one’s a no brainer: Guess Extra! host Mario Lopez’s ethnic ancestry.

That was family historian Michelle Ercanbrack’s challenge to Mario himself when she appeared on Extra! to announce the results of Mario’s AncestryDNA test. Two cultures in Lopez’s past were no surprise. His test results came back with high percentages of Native American and Spanish markers.

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But Mario had a third prominent ethnicity in his past.

Ercanbrack brought along samples of three ethnic cuisines as clues: a French baguette, some Turkish hummus, and a very British plate of fish and chips.

Have you made your guess?

Mario went with Turkish.

His genes say otherwise.

Mario’s British ancestry was discovered by an ethnicity analysis that compared his DNA to various ethnic “reference panels.” These reference panels are samples of genetic data taken from families with a long history in an area—generations in England, for example. By comparing your DNA to these reference panels, tests like AncestryDNA make estimates about your ethic makeup. So you might be 53 percent Central European, 20 percent West African, 15 percent Scandinavian—and 12 percent British Isles.

Figuring out where the mysterious percentage that surprises you came from is part of the fun that keeps family history hobbyists up late into the night. And it can be a great conversation—or argument—starter during the summer family reunion season.

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