the article and data that initiated the Ravenstonedale project
our project page on the Family Tree DNA website
If you have taken a Family Finder autosomal DNA test, you have probably already checked your 'My Origins' results, and may have been surprised, bewildered, excited, or even shocked at the results. It is important to understand that the maps and percentages provided represent a guide depicting Family Tree DNA's current interpretation of the clues hidden in your DNA about the different populations represented in your distant ancestry.
The data which leads scientists to draw these conclusions is growing all the time, so in a year or two your results may change to reflect the latest information available - but you may find it helpful to read this article 'My Origins: unravelling ancestries', by Razib Khan on the ftDNA Learning Centre.
Personally, I was disappointed by my own 'My Origins' results, which said that 100% of my own ancestry was from the British Isles (and we know that the population of the British Isles is actually a rich mixture of descendants of various invaders and settlers). From what I have read, it seems the ftDNA results are designed to show the populations in your ancestry up to around 2,000 years ago. But slightly different interpretations were revealed on three of the Admixture utilities on Gedmatch, which seem to examine a deeper level of ancestral origins:
Click on the pie charts to open up pdf files with the full details.
These are just three of a number of Admixture Proportions Calculators available on Gedmatch which I ran using my own autosomal DNA data (which I uploaded from ftDNA to Gedmatch) - they have been produced using programs developed by independent researchers working in this field. All three indicate a much wider range of ancestry, though they use different descriptors.
I particularly liked the approach of the MDLP calculator, which suggests that my own very distant ancestors comprised
37% European Hunter Gatherers
28% European Early Farmers
23% Caucasian (East of the Black Sea)
4.3% Altaic (which seems to be Central/East Asia)
3.6% South Central Asian
1.2% North African
with a smattering of Arctic and Australoid thrown in!
I find that MUCH more appealing, having always imagined myself as a hunter-gatherer!
And there is even one utility on Gedmatch which allows you to compare your own DNA with that found in archeological finds - see below for my results (you will need to open up the full pdf file to read the detail). I can't pretend to fully understand this, but I think it shows that my closest 'archaic' matches are with skeletons found in Hungary, Luxemberg, Stuttgart and Siberia - with the oldest of these being the Siberian one, dated at 45,000 years old - very impressive!
If you want to examine your own Family Finder results on Gedmatch, first go to www.gedmatch.com and register for an account.
Then you can either load up your own Autosomal and X-DNA raw data (full instructions are provided), or if your results are already on there*, simply enter your kit number, preceded by 'F' and explore the various utilites available.
*Many of the members of the Ravenstonedale DNA Project already have their results uploaded
The People of the British Isles Project is an exciting research project looking into the genetic origins of a sample of living Brits who can show that all four of their grandparents were born within 80km of each other. The recently published map showing the different clusters of distinct genetic groups is fascinating. This blog from the Wellcome Trust (which supports the project) gives a good explanation and links to the Project Website and the article published in Nature in March 2015.
It is hoped that the data from this project will be incorporated into ftDNA's reference data for future analyses of Family Finder results. It is particularly useful for our own Ravenstonedale project, as Cumbria is one of the areas best represented amongst the sample.