REVIEW: New MyHeritage DNA Ethnicity Estimates – June 2017

Genealogy author and educator Thomas MacEntee reviews the new MyHeritage DNA Ethnicity Estimate experience - are the results what he expected?
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[Editor’s Note: I strongly urge anyone who has tested with another major DNA test vendor (AncestryDNA, 23andMe, etc.) to download their raw data and then go to MyHeritage and upload that data to view the new MyHeritage Ethnicity Estimate experience. Click HERE for the MyHeritage offer which is FREE!]

Earlier this week, My Heritage DNA announced improvements in its Ethnicity Estimates algorithm as well as new ways to understand your DNA testing results. Click HERE to read more.

As I’ve started to take the plunge into DNA testing for myself and my family, I figured I would take the new ethnicity estimate experience for a test drive at MyHeritage by uploading my DNA raw data from tests I had done with AncestryDNA and 23andMe.

A Note on My DNA Testing Plans

I have tested with AncestryDNA and 23andMe (using their Ancestry + Health service) in the past; I have since then downloaded the raw data for each test.

Also, in the past month I’ve received test kits from GPS Origins, Living DNA and MyHeritage DNA. I’ve collected my DNA samples as directed and mailed them in last week. It will take several weeks for me to receive those results back and then I also plan on downloading the raw data to use at other sites such as MyHeritage.

My goal is to be able to test with ALL of the major DNA vendors involved with genetic genealogy and then provide thorough reviews of their products and services here at DNA Bargains.

AncestryDNA Results – Ethnicity Estimate

AncestryDNA Results – Ethnicity Estimate - Thomas MacEntee

According to Ancestry, using the AncestryDNA test results, I am 100% European with a breakdown of:

  • Europe West – 47%
  • Ireland – 19%
  • Europe East – 14%
  • Scandinavia – 13%

23andMe Results – Ethnicity Estimate

23andMe Results – Ethnicity Estimate - Thomas MacEntee

According to 23andMe, using the 23andMe test results, I am 99.9% European with a breakdown of:

  • Northwestern European – 93.4%
    • British & Irish – 46.4%
    • French & German – 14.0%
    • Scandinavian – 0.2%
    • Broadly Northwestern European – 32.8%
  • Eastern European – 1.6%
  • Ashkenazi Jewish – 0.2%
  • Broadly European – 4.8%

Ancestry Results Using MyHeritage Ethnicity Estimate

Ancestry Results Using MyHeritage Ethnicity Estimate - Thomas MacEntee

According to MyHeritage, using the imported AncestryDNA test results, I am 100% European with a breakdown of:

  • North and West Europe – 81.7%
    • North and West Europe – 49.8%
    • Irish, Scottish and Welsh – 20.9%
    • English – 7.7%
    • Scandinavian – 3.3%
  • East Europe – 18.3%
    • Balkan – 15.0%
    • East Europe – 3.3%

You can click here to view the “experience” via my public post at Facebook.

23andMe Results Using MyHeritage Ethnicity Estimate

23andMe Results Using MyHeritage Ethnicity Estimate - Thomas MacEntee

According to MyHeritage, using the imported 23andMe test results, I am 100% European with a breakdown of:

  • North and West Europe – 78.5%
    • English – 37.2%
    • North and West Europe – 22.2%
    • Irish, Scottish and Welsh – 16.5%
    • Scandinavian – 2.6%
  • East Europe – 21.5%
    • Balkan – 17.1%
    • East Europe – 4.4%

You can click here to view the “experience” via my public post at Facebook.

What Have I Learned via MyHeritage DNA Ethnicity Estimate?

One of the biggest challenges right now in the genealogy industry is how to get those who test their DNA to actually use the data for research AND to engage with other testers in the community.

I’m ready to take up that challenge, but even for me it can be daunting to pore over the data and make conclusions. I’m still in the process of keying in these percentages to a spreadsheet and looking at results. I will come back with another post with that information in the near future AND compare the results with what my genealogy research shows.

In the meantime, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you read My Heritage Ethnicity Results by Roberta Estes over at DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy (click here) dated May 30, 2017. Roberta provides an in-depth comparison of her recent results at MyHeritage and compares those results with her own genealogy research PLUS a vendor-by-vendor comparison as well.

Are the Results What I Expected?

Yes and no. In no way am I an “expert” on DNA and genetic genealogy nor do I purport to be one. I’m on a learning journey and I invite anyone interested to follow me as I learn and understand my own DNA test results. I am trying to figure out why there is such a differential especially in Scandinavian heritage. From what I’ve read at the post mentioned above by Roberta Estes, it could be that the way certain regions are mapped and how one vendor breaks down ethnicity compared to another vendor are factors in play here. And of course, as more people test and upload data, results will be more refined over time.

The MyHeritage DNA support site, answering the question “Why are my DNA results different than expected?,” points out that once we trace our heritage back to our grandparents and beyond, we don’t get an even 50% inheritance of DNA as we do from parents. So I could have 3% from one great-grandparent and 11% from another.

But more importantly, why do the results from the MyHeritage DNA Ethnicity Estimate experience vary – and quite a bit in some cases – from the same information at AncestryDNA and 23andMe? Again, the MyHeritage support page on DNA states:

“We humans are more similar than we think. All people share 99.5% of their DNA sequence in common. Only the remaining 0.5% differs from one person to another. The DNA Matches are people who are likely to be your relatives (close or distant) because there are significant similarities between their DNA and yours within that 0.5%.

MyHeritage uses three different parameters to calculate DNA Matches: the total amount of shared DNA, the number of shared segments and the length of the longest segment. The algorithms and thresholds that are used to calculate matches might vary between the different providers, and therefore you might not see the exact same DNA matches in the different sites.”

Click here to read more about how the MyHeritage DNA Ethnicity Estimate works in terms of using other DNA test data and rendering results.

Conclusion

Overall, I loved my experience with the new MyHeritage Ethnicity Estimate. Here are my thoughts:

  • It was easy to upload the raw DNA data from AncestryDNA and 23andMe. I already had a MyHeritage account; if you do not have an account, you will be prompted to create one FIRST, then upload the data.
  • There is a waiting period before you receive the ethnicity estimate results. I did my upload during a very busy period when MyHeritage had the “upload for FREE” campaign and I had to wait several days. Be patient!
  • I’ve concluded that there is no “easy button” in understanding DNA test data and ethnicity results. I need to create some comparison charts and review my genealogy research data. In addition, I know these estimates may change as more and more users upload their own DNA data to MyHeritage.
  • While there were no big surprises, such as African or Asian ancestry, in terms of the DNA data being aligned with my genealogy research and family stories, I do want to identify the ancestors responsible for some of the percentages such as Scandinavian.
  • I love the way MyHeritage has bundled the results into a shareable video. I chose to share this on Facebook then I snagged the URL for each video. Now I can email that to friends and family. I think putting the DNA information into an easy-to-understand and shareable mechanism is going to be important for the growth of the genealogy industry as well as the DNA/genetic genealogy industry.

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©2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved