Posted by Stephen Baloglu on November 7, 2012 in AncestryDNA

Meet John, a true example of how a person’s documented family history can be slightly different than the story in their DNA. John has taken other DNA tests, and his results came back as 98% Western European. Accurate? Yes. Detailed? Not so much. See, there’s a much broader story in each person’s DNA that John, for example, just discovered with the new AncestryDNA test.

Never before had he heard about the North African in his ancestry—no records, old photographs or mention from his great grandparents. But if you look at the migrations and history over the past 500 to a thousand or so years ago in that region, it makes complete sense and reveals entirely new pieces of his family story.

John’s AncestryDNA Ethnicity Results

John's Ethnicity Discovery


A family history, history lesson.

John soon discovered that Southern Europe shares a substantial amount of genetic affinity with North Africa. This is mostly due to the fact that the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by Moorish (Berber) invaders—from present-day Morocco—in about 711 C.E. Their legacy can still be seen in Spain and Portugal, ranging up to 15% in some individuals, and as shown above, 9% in John’s case.

In addition, similar lessons in history can be drawn from the Finnish and Scandinavian portions of his results, providing compelling insight into his background. As sea-faring cultures, their trade routes and migration patterns took them all over Europe, causing them to appear in sometimes surprising locations.

How this helps you interpret your results.

It’s important to appreciate that AncestryDNA is painting a picture that can be older than what you see in your family tree. Your DNA results cover a range of time frames—most prominently represented are the 6-10 generations of your recent history, and a smaller portion covering about 500 to 1,000 years ago. It’s all relevant history (not ancient history) and part of defining who you are.

So if your DNA results and pedigree seem to be pointing in different directions, remember that your family tree and written records are just part of the overall story. People did a lot of migrating, invading, and intermingling around the world and, sometimes, your DNA is the only record of what really happened. What unexpected ethnicity will you discover in your DNA? Find out at



  1. Lydia

    I have a question that Ive asked and it hasnt been answered straight. Are the categories such as “Central European,” just broad ones? Or does this mean that your DNA has matches in ALL of the countries that are shaded? Also in my map about half of Iraq is shaded in…. All of Iran is shaded so is this just because there arent exact borders in the shading?

  2. Barbara

    I received my results. Mostly British Isles with a small smattering of Central European and 2% unknown.

    I previously had a DNA test done and the results were 86% Caucasion and 14% Native American. This was to be expected because I have a native american grandmother.

    So of course I am confused.

  3. Kay

    The results from AncestryDNA certainly do not match my results from either FamilyTreeDNA from both autosomal and mitochondrial testing, or from the autosomal test at 23andMe, but those two basically agree with each other. I have a large amount of “Central European” and a fair amount of “Scandinavian” in your results and honestly that doesn’t make any sense with what I know about my ancestors – and I know quite a lot. There are either some basic problems with your testing or with your confusing reporting.

  4. Dee

    I previously had a dna test done and my results were 65% North African (Moroccan and Algerian) 15% East African, 15% Iberian Peninsula. and the reest was Brazilian and American Indian.’s test said I was 79% West African, 17% Scandinavian, and 4% unknown. The “unknown” basically lines up with the Indigenous dna from my last test, but the othet labels are kinda off. What’s going on?

  5. Robin

    Barbara, Kay, and Dee – you are not the only ones to raise questions. There are some serious concerns about ACOM’s DNA results circulating the internet and for that reason, I’ve decided against getting their test done:

    I guess the old saying is true – you get what you pay for. I thought ACOM’s test was a great deal but if it means getting inaccurate test results, it’s only a waste of money.

    I wonder if this will get deleted.

  6. Monika

    Yes, I am a little bit puzzled by the results as well. I already have my husband’s standard DNA test on, I had him take the ancestry.dna test as well, because I was told that it does not focus entirely on the paternal line. Yet his ancestry.dna test came back 97% British Isles and 3% uncertain. His father’s ancestry line is 100% in England, but his MOTHER’S ancestry is 100% in Germany. (So much so that even the tombstone of g-grandpa is written in German while he is resting here on American soil!) So, 97% British and 3% uncertain does not explain how the DNA test results do not show the German side of the family if they do not just focus on the direct male line.

  7. Barbara

    Previous post #2: My brother also did the autosomal DNA test like I did. My results, as I said before, were 86% Caucasian and 14% Native American.

    His results from the same testing company were 84% Caucasian and 16% Native American – so we know it isn’t a fluke.

    He just texted me to let me know that he is going to take the ancestry DNA test and will let me know what his results are. It will be interesting to see if we match up on this test like we did on the other.

  8. Victoria

    My paternal grandmother is from Germany. My paternal grandfather is from England. My maternal grandmother is from the Jersey Islands. My paternal grandfather is from Canada and family stories have them imagrating from Ireland, france and Scotland.
    What are my test results? I’m 51% Scandinavian, 23% from spain or portigal and 21% from Eastern Europe. I have done geneology on all these lines and have 2600 people in my tree. None of the people in my tree are from any of the countries that the test says I’m from.
    I called my mom to see if I was adopted and she says I wasn’t. I look like my paternal grandmother. What in the world is going on?

  9. Doug Wescott

    I spoke with someone at today regarding my DNA results, which were way off from what I know about my family tree, and expected. He explained that the British Isles were populated by Scandinavians. He made a good case for my results.

    My concern now is that the results point back too far to be useful. Exaggerating slightly, it’s as if I was told my ancestors were Adam and Eve. How useful is knowing that?

    As I told the rep., I really like all of the features of their software. This worked against them, in this case, as my expectations were very high for gaining useful information, and I’m very disappointed.

  10. Kim

    The only test to put your money on is the Genogenetics National Geographic Gene 2.0. They are currently updating their test to include 2-10th generation ancestral info. Prior to this update, it was specifically the mtDNA and Haplogroup but they’re now using the Genochip for genetic anthropology where they utilise over 150,000 markers (richest ancestry-relevant information). It costs $119 for the basic and $199 for advanced.

  11. Doug Wescott

    I have used for years, and really appreciate it’s ease of use and many, many resources. As a result, I had high expectations when I submitted my DNA. I am very, very disappointed in the results. With some exaggeration, of course we can all trace back to Adam and Eve, but how useful is it to know that? I trace back to the British Isles in the 1500’s, yet there is no such link in my results. I understand others do show the British Isles in theirs. Why don’t I? I was told because the British Isles were populated from Scandinavia. This does me no good. Again, very disappointed in the results, and the explanation.

  12. I wish I had read the posts by others above and I probably would have chosen another company for DNA testing. I have 79% British Isles, which was expected. But 11% Eastern European and 10% Southern European, which was not at all expected. Migrations aside, I have most of my lines back to at least the mid-1600s and there is nothing but English, Scottish, and German. So even if there were migrations into these areas, it certainly should not have shown up as 21%–it would have been a fraction of that. Also, no German showed up even though I have identified German ancestors. I think this test is too unreliable to be of any real help. I will do one with another company and hopefully the results will be more accurate.

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