Will ancestry DNA tests tell me my family origins?

I have taken several DNA tests for ancestry, including those provided by the FT-DNA, 23andMe, and Living DNA companies.  Unusual for a tester, I am actually of a single population, very local, well documented ancestry here in East Anglia, South-East England.  I'm not someone in the Americas or Australia, that might have very little clue what parts of the world that their ancestors lived in, previous to immigration.  I know my roots, I'm lucky.  I live them.  You might ask, why did I feel the need to test DNA for ancestry?  The answer is, curiosity, to test the documented evidence, fill the gaps, look for surprises, and in particular, to understand the longer term, to reach further back into my ancestry.

I have though, become a bit of a skeptic, even a critic, of autosomal DNA (auDNA) tests for ancestry.  They are the tests presented by the businesses in results called something like Ancestry, Family Ancestry, Origins, Family, Composition, etc.  Instead of testing the haplogroups on either the direct paternal (Y-DNA), or direct maternal (mtDNA), these tests scan the autosomal and X chromosomes.  That's good, because that is where all of the real business is, what makes you an individual.  However, it is subject to a phenomena that we call genetic recombination (the X chromosome is a little more complicated).  This means that every generation circa 50% of both parents DNA is randomly inherited from each parent.  I said randomly.  Each generation, that randomness chops up the inherited segments smaller, and moves them around.  After about seven or eight generations, the chances of inheriting any DNA from any particular ancestral line quickly diminishes.  It becomes washed out by genetic recombination.

Therefore, not only are the autosomes subject to a randomness, and genetic recombination - they are only useful for assessing family admixture only over the past three hundred years or so.  There is arguably, DNA that has been shared between populations much further back, that we call background population admixture.  It survived, because it entered many lines, for many families, following for example, a major ancient migration event.  If this phenomena is accepted - it can only cause more problems and confusion, because it can fool results into suggesting more recent family admixture - e.g. that a great grandparent in an American family must have been Scandinavian, when in fact many Scandinavians may have settled another part of Europe, and admixed with that ancestral population, more than one thousand years ago.

DNA businesses compare segments of auDNA, against those in a number of modern day reference populations or data sets from around the world.  They look for what segments are similar to these World populations, and then try to project, what percentages of your DNA is shared or similar to these other populations.  Therefore:

  1. Your results will depend on the quality and choice of geographic boundary, allocated to any reference population data set.  A number of distinct populations of different ancestry and ethnicity may exist with in them, and cross the boundaries into other data sets.  How well are the samples chosen? Do they include urban people (that tend to have more admixture and mobility than many rural people).  Do they include descendants of migrants that merely claim a certain ancestry previous to migration?What was the criteria for sample selection?
  2. Your results might be confused by background population admixture.
  3. You are testing against modern day populations, not those of your ancestors 300 - 500 years ago.  People may well have moved around since then.  In some parts of the World, they certainly have!

It is far truer to say that your auDNA test results reflect shared DNA with modern population data sets, rather than to claim descent from them.  For example, 10% Finnish simply means that you appear to share similar DNA with a number of people that were hopefully sampled in Finland (and hopefully not just claim Finnish ancestry) - not that 10% of your ancestors came from Finland.  That is, for the above reasons, presumptuous.  It might indeed suggest some Finnish ancestry, but this is where many people go wrong, it does not prove ancestry from anywhere.

Truth

This is my main quibble.  So many testers take their autosomal (for Family/Ancestry) DNA test results to be infallible truths.  They are NOT.  White papers do not make a test and analysis system perfect and proven as accurate.  Regarding something as Science does not make it unquestionable - quite the opposite.  The fact of the matter is, if you test with different companies, different siblings, add phasing, you receive different ancestry results.  Therefore which result is true and unquestionable?

A Tool for further investigation

So what use is DNA testing for ancestry?  Actually, I would say, lots of use.  If you take the results with a pinch of salt, test with different companies, then it can help point you in a direction.  Never however take autosomal results as infallible.  Critical is to test with companies with well thought out, high quality reference data sets.  Also to test with companies that intend to progress and improve their analysis and your results.

For DNA relative matching, then sure, the companies with the best matching system, the largest match (contactable customer) databases, and with custom in the regions of the world that you hope to match with. There is also, GEDmatch.  Personally, I find it thrilling when I match through DNA, but in truth, I had more genealogical success back in the days when genealogists posted their surname interests in printed magazines and directories. 

The results of each ancestry test should be taken as a clue.  Look at the results of testers with more proven documented and known genealogies.  Learn to recognise what might be population background, as opposed to recent admixture in a family.  Investigate haplogroup DNA - it has a relative truth, although over a much longer time, and wider area.  Just be aware that your haplogroup/s represent only one or two lines of descent - your ancestry over the past few thousand years may not be well represented by a haplogroup.  Investigate everything.  Enjoy the journey.  Explore World History.

An English Ancestry - Documentary and DNA

Myself

An amateur genealogist and genetic genealogist.  Born in an English family, in Norfolk, East Anglia, England, UK.  I first became interested in traditional genealogy over twenty eight years ago.  I still live in Norfolk, the home of the majority of my recorded ancestors.

GEDMatch

  • 23andMe kit. M551698
  • FT-DNA Family Finder kit. T444495
  • Living DNA kit (GEDmatch Genesis) DM3812420

The Paper Trail and Family History

I was born in Norfolk, to a local family.  My current gedcom database includes records of 2,490 family members and ancestors for my children.  I currently have records of 279 of my direct ancestors.  All but two (a 3 x great grandfather and his named father of Switzerland) were in South-East England, predominantly in Norfolk, and appear to have been English.  Most of my recorded ancestors over the past 330 years, appear to have been rural working class.  They most likely descended predominantly from the medieval English peasantry.

Here is a recent pedigree fan chart demonstrating recorded coverage of my direct ancestry over the past 11 generations:

Below, birth locations of my ancestors for previous five generations:

  • Brown = East Anglia, England
  • Blue = South Central England
  • Orange = Lincolnshire, England
  • Purple = Switzerland

Surnames of My Direct Ancestors

Yallop, Wymer, Wittham, Wick, Waters, Waine, Upcroft, Tovell, Tovel, Tibnum, Thurkettle, Thacker, Tammas-Tovell, Tammas, Symonds, Springall, Sniss, Snelling, Smith, Shilling, Shepherd, Shawers, Seymore, Saunderson, Sales, Rowland, Rose, Rix, Rippon, Riches, Read, Ransby, Quantrill, Porter, Portar, Peach, Page, Osborne, Norton, Nichols, Nicholls, Nicholes, Neville, Neale, Morrison, Moore, Mollett, Moll, Mitchells, Mingay, Merrison, Maye, Marsh, Ling, Lewell, Lawn, Larke, Key, Jacobs, Hill, Hewitt, Hedges, Harrison, Harris, Harrington, Hardyman, Harding, Hardiment, Hammond, Hagon, Gynby, Gunton, Gregory, Gorll, Goodram, Goffin, Goffen, Ginby, Gaul, Gardiner, Gall, Freeman, Ellis, Edwards, Edney, Durran, Dove, Dingle, Dennis, Deadman, Daynes, Dawes, Curtis, Crutchfield, Cruchfield, Creess, Cossey, Coleman, Brucker, Brown, Brooks, Brooker, Briting, Britiff, Briggs, Breeze, Bradfield, Bowes, Bond, Bligh, Blaxhall, Bennett, Beckett, Beck, Baxter, Basing, Barker, Barber, Annison, Aimes.

Father's Ancestry

On my father's side, I currently have 131 of his direct ancestors recorded.  The majority were in Norfolk, but some distant ancestors on record also lived in Oxfordshire, London, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Northants, Berkshire, and a great great grandparent from Switzerland.  This map demonstrates his English ancestral events in his database, over the past 330 years:

Image: My great great grandfather William Baxter, born at Gressenhall Workhouse, Norfolk, in 1846.

Mother's Ancestry

On my mother's side, I currently have 146 of her direct ancestors recorded.  They were all in East Anglia - almost all in the County of Norfolk, with a few distant ancestors over the county border in Suffolk.  Her ancestry over the past three centuries has a particularly dense cluster in Broadland, East Norfolk.  This map demonstrates the ancestral events in her database, over the past 330 years:

My maternal grandparent's wedding at Limpenhoe, Norfolk in 1932.  Includes not only my maternal grandparents, but all four maternal side great grandparents, and one 2 x great grandmother.

A Photo Album of some of my ancestors (followed by the "DNA test results")

Image.  My father's brother in Korea (Royal Norfolk Regiment) 1952.

Image:  My great great grandfather, Samuel "Fiddler" Curtis.  Born at Hassingham, Norfolk in 1852.

Image: My paternal grandmother as a little girl in Norwich, Norfolk, circa 1908, with her father, my great grandfather Fred Smith, a wheelwright, born at Attleborough, Norfolk, in 1866.

Image:  My great great grandmother Sarah Thacker (nee Daynes), born at Besthorpe, Norfolk in 1845.

Image: My paternal great grandfather John Henry Brooker, born 1884 at Deptford, London, with his partner Mabel at Sheerness, Kent, in 1933.

Image: Four generations of a Norfolk family.  The baby is my aunt, holding her, grandmother Ivy, behind her, my great grandfather Sam Tammas-Tovell, the elderly lady, my great great grandmother Eliza Tammas-Tovell (nee Lawn) born at Tunstall, Norfolk in 1849.

Image:  My paternal grandmother as an infant, with her older brother circa 1905, Norwich, Norfolk.

Image:  My late grandfather "Krewjer" Curtis, holding my young mother.  On crutches behind them, my great grandmother Flo' Curtis (nee Key) born at Freethorpe, Norfolk in 1885.

Image: My great grandmother Emily Smith (nee Barber), born at Woodton, Norfolk in 1859), with my great uncle Sidney Smith at Norwich.

That is my documented family history and ancestry.  I would dare postulate that most of my ancestors previous to this record, most likely descend from the peasants and freemen of medieval East Anglia, and also in the Thames Valley of Oxfordshire, and Berkshire.  What else can I add?  

The Genetics

So how does the above documented genealogy compare with the genetic genealogy?  Let's see.

First of all, the auDNA (Autosomal DNA tests for ancestry), generally agree that I'm 100% European, and at least mainly North-west European.  I can't argue with that.  At that level auDNA tests work reasonably.  Let's look at my personal auDNA tests for ancestry, see what they report:

Living DNA (updated July 2017)

This new DNA test, with a very rich and good quality data set for the British Isles, has so far proven to be by far the most accurate that I have so far commissioned.  I recommend it particularly for testers with significant British ancestry, as it tries to break British ancestry down into 21 regions.

Below are my Living DNA regional ancestry, based on Standard Mode.

Below are my Standard Mode results broken down into sub regions.

Living DNA has now two new modes of confidence called complete and cautious modes.  First the Complete results:

Below are my Complete Mode results in regional:

Below are my Complete Mode results for sub-regional:

Now the Cautious results:

Below are my Cautious Mode results in regional:

Finally, below are my Cautious Mode results for sub-regional:

The Living DNA Test was surprisingly good at detecting many of my ancestors at sub-regional level, into the English regions.  Not perfect by any means - but with an impressive accuracy compared with any other auDNA tests for ancestry that I have investigated.  The Scandinavian, Germanic, and some of the unassigned percentages I am confident, were really East Anglian.  Living DNA give me 37% East Anglia.  I predict from my recorded genealogy, that I most likely have around 75% East Anglia in reality, however, that a DNA test could even identify a half of such a small sub region is I feel very impressive.

The Tuscan percentage, I could not explain.  However, the recent discovery on record of Swiss ancestry at Generation 6 could correlate to it.  It could explain some of the enhanced (for an English tester) southern European ancestry on a number of tests.  Although most likely only responsible for 0% to 5% of my DNA, I do have a Swiss great great great grandparent.

Ancestry.com










(P.s yes, I know my name is there, but thanks!).





FT-DNA Family Finder My Origins (Updated April 2017)

97% European

Broken into:

51% British Isles

46% West and Central Europe

Traces (<2%):

  • Southeast Europe
  • Western Middle East
  • Ashkenazi

23andMe V4 chip, Ancestry Composition speculative mode (before any phasing):

100% European:  94% NW European.  3% Southern European.  3% Broadly European.

Broken down to:

32% British & Irish

27% French & German

7% Scandinavian

29% Broadly NW European

2% Broadly Southern European (including 0.5% Iberian)

23andMe V4 chip, Ancestry Composition speculative mode phased with one parent (mother) and updated July 2017:

100% European:  96% NW European.  2% Southern European.  2% Broadly European.

38% British & Irish  (23% from father, 15% from mother)

24% French & German  (13% from father, 11% from mother)

0.8% Scandinavian  (from mother alone)

34% Broadly NW European  (22% from father, 12% from mother)

2% Broadly Southern European (1% from father, 1% from mother)

The 23andMe test for ancestry fails to recognise English - and commonly splits our English ancestry into British & Irish, French & German, Scandinavian, Broadly North west European, and often with a small percentage of Southern European.

auDNA Tests for Ancestry - a conclusion

The tests prove very good at identifying that I am pretty much 100% European, and usually see me as mainly North-West European.  Ironically, as my Y-DNA below demonstrates, I do have some distant Asian ancestry on that particular line.  The only test that might some how pick this up is the latest FT-DNA My Origins (2:0), but it is probably coincidental.

The tests in general, are not so good at identifying me as English, or even as British.  In the cases of the FT-DNA, and 23andMe tests, they have not made any attempt to create reference data sets for English populations, in order to distinguish their medieval (and earlier) admixture between older British, and Continental populations.  Instead, they tend to bundle English with Irish, Welsh, and Scottish.  As a result, English testers receive confusing results with lower than expected levels of British / Irish, and percentages of French, German, Scandinavian, and Southern European that they are wrongly assured are the results of recent family admixture from those parts of Europe.  Only Living DNA has made an effort to untangle this issue.

I was impressed by the Ancestry.com / Ancestry.co.uk Genetic Communities feature, that correctly assigns me to the "East Anglia & SE England" genetic community, with "very likely" and 42 initial DNA matches within it.  In comparison, the 23andMe offering of Your Ancestry Timeline is a joke.

I accept that my results are consistently atypical for a British tester, even perhaps an extreme for an English tester.  They are more Continental than the average.  Sometimes French.  Sometimes Germanic, Sometimes Scandinavian.  I cannot account for this with my documented and recorded family history, which is localised, rural, totally South-East English, and strongly East Anglian.  I receive lower than average (for a British person of British recorded ancestry) British ancestry from all three DNA test businesses.  The only answer that I can see, is that my ancestry is so strongly rural and localised in East Anglia, that I have higher than average admixture from the 5th to 10th Century AD immigration events - the Anglo-Saxon, and perhaps Anglo-Danish, and Anglo-Norman.  It isn't really a surprise - particularly when you look at the above map of my mother's recorded ancestry.

This does though raise the question, how much are these auDNA tests affected by background population admixture?

The second aspect to my results, is that they keep producing a Southern European influence.  On 23andMe, this manifests itself as only a small percentage - but phasing reveals that I inherited it from both parents.  I surveyed 18 English testers on 23andMe, and on speculative mode, no less than 16 received small percentages of Southern European.  Therefore, it would in this case appear to be a case of population background.  However, FT-DNA 1:0 threw a whopping 32% Southern European at me, but then retracted that in the new version.  23andMe hints at Iberian.  DNA.land suggests North Italian and Balkan.  Then Living DNA suggests 9.6% Tuscany!  I cannot account for these sort of percentages within my known recorded genealogy.  I'm currently open minded to having unknown Southern European ancestors within the past ten generations, or to it being some sort of English population background signal, perhaps related to unknown prehistoric admixture, Roman British admixture, Norman Medieval admixture, or a combination.

I want to discuss and look at third party analysis of these results further down in this post, but first, I want to report my DNA Haplogroups, as I feel that they are more precise:


My Haplogroups

Haplogroups act as genetic markers that follow strict rules of inheritance, passing down only one direct line of ancestry.  They can be traced back into prehistory, and have a high reliability.

My Y-DNA Haplogroup

This is the haplogroup that you inherit on your direct paternal line, from your father, from his father, and back in time.  I have tested my Y-DNA at 23andMe, then FT-DNA Y111, Big Y, and have had further analysis of my raw data at YFull, and FullGenome Corp.  In other words, it has had a lot of investigation!

Y Haplogroup L (M20)

This is regarded as rare in Europe, and generally thought of a minority haplogroup spread across Western, Central, and Southern Asia.  Going further downstream, I currently reach:

Y Haplotype L1b2c (L-SK1414)

This is regarded as a very rare sub clade, of a rare haplogroup!  The FT-DNA Y Haplogroup L Project, currently contains only five SNP confirmed L-SK1414, and thirteen STR predicted L-SK1414.  I know of one other SNP confirmed sample, and a few more STR predicted.  The confirmed (including myself) are from: Southern England (English), Lebanon (Druze), Azeribaijan, USA (German) and Makran, SW Pakistan (Baluchi).  The STR predicted are from Southern England, France, Russia, Kuwait, UAE, Eastern Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

I currently regard the origin of Y hg L1b2c as most likely to be in the region of Iran and Iraq.  I believe that I most likely had a single Y ancestor, that travelled from Asia to Southern England sometime between 2,000 years ago, and 500 years ago.  A "medieval" Asian traveller".  No autosomal DNA tests have so far yielded any evidence of any Asian ancestry above that expected for an English person.  Therefore, any auDNA evidence has likely been washed out by genetic recombination.

My earliest documented surname ancestor on record is my 6xgreat grandfather, John Brooker of Long Wittenham, Berkshire, born circa 1725.  Some of the STR predicted L-SK1414 descend from a Thomas Chandler, that lived about the same time (early-mid C18 AD) at Basingstoke, which is only 32 miles from Long Wittenham.  Most likely, John Brooker and Thomas Chandler shared a common Y ancestor.

Red are L-SK1414. 

FT-DNA currently see my known haplotype as L-FGC51036 (downstream of SK1414).  YFull currently list my haplotype as L-FGC51074 (SK1414).

My mt-DNA Haplogroup

This is the mitochondrial DNA haplogroup that you inherit on your direct maternal line, from your mother, from her mother, and back in time.  I have tested my mtDNA at 23andMe, then FT-DNA mtFull Sequence. My 23andMe raw data was also correctly predicted by the James Lick mthap analyser website and by WeGene.  In other words, it has also had a lot of correlation and investigation!

MT Haplogroup H (Helen)

This is the most common mtDNA haplogroup in Europe, but it is also common in Asia, where it is believed to have originated.  Possibly originating in Arabia, before moving up to Central Asia.  Further downstream?

MT Haplogroup Branch H6a1a8

H6a1, based on studies of ancient DNA to date, most likely originated on the Pontic and Caspian Steppes of Asia. It has been found in the ancient DNA of human remains, from the Copper Age Steppe pastoralist Yamnaya Culture.  H6a1 and H6a1a have both been found in the ancient DNA of human remains, from the Early Bronze Age East European Corded Ware Culture and Unetice Culture.  More recently H6a1a has been recorded in the Netherlands ( 1883–1665 calBCE) in Bell Beaker Culture.  No H6a1 or descendant branches have yet been recovered from earlier contexts in Europe.

Therefore it would appear that my mtDNA was carried into Europe from the Eurasian Steppes during the Early Bronze Age, as a part of the great Yamna expansion of that time.  Most haplogroups associated with this expansion have been male Y haplogroups, which makes H6a1 of particular interest, because it was carried into Europe by Steppe women.

I haven't found enough current data on branch H6a1a8 to determine when or how it entered Lowland Britain, but it most likely formed during the Bronze or Iron Age, and so far, I've mainly seen North American and Austrasian H6a1a8 testers that feel that they most likely have British or Irish maternal ancestry.

I trace my direct maternal (mtDNA) line to my 6xgreat grandmother, Sarah Hardyman (nee Briting), who lived nearby at Bunwell, Norfolk, and was born circa 1725.

Above image by User:Dbachmann [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Okay, enough of my haplogroups, let's return to more auDNA evidence, and then look at Ancient Origins.

Other Third Party auDNA for ancestry analysis services

GedMatch.com. Eurogenes K13 (using my 23andMe data)

On Single Population Sharing, it rates my DNA against the closest references.  In order of closest to not so close, the top five are:

1 South_Dutch 3.89
2 Southeast_English 4.35
3 West_German 5.22
4 Southwest_English 6.24
5 Orcadian 6.97

On four populations admixing?

1 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Valencia + Swedish @ 2.087456
2 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Murcia + Swedish @ 2.147237
3 Norwegian + Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English @ 2.216714
4 Danish + Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English @ 2.225334
5 Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Swedish @ 2.230991

Alternatively, running my FT-DNA Family Finder auDNA file through Eurogenes K13 gives me:

1 Southeast_English @ 4.276322
2 South_Dutch @ 4.559027
3 West_German @ 6.230592
4 Southwest_English @ 6.575822
5 Orcadian @ 7.239489

and on four populations admixing:

1 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Valencia + Swedish @ 1.864642
2 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon + Swedish @ 1.919987
3 Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Swedish @ 1.928191
4 Southeast_English + Southeast_English + Spanish_Murcia + Swedish @ 1.955522
5 Norwegian + Portuguese + Southeast_English + Southeast_English @ 1.958800

Gedmatch.com. Eurogenes EU Test K15 (using my 23andMe data)


Using Oracle for single population first, the top five closest:

1 Southwest_English 2.7
2 South_Dutch 3.98
3 Southeast_English 4.33
4 Irish 6.23
5 West_German 6.25

1 Southwest_English + Southwest_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon + West_Norwegian @ 1.080952
2 Irish + North_Dutch + Southwest_English + Spanish_Galicia @ 1.111268
3 North_Dutch + Southwest_English + Spanish_Galicia + West_Scottish @ 1.282744
4 Southeast_English + Southwest_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon + West_Norwegian @ 1.295819
5 North_Dutch + North_Dutch + Southwest_English + Spanish_Castilla_Y_Leon @ 1.304939

Gedmatch.com. MDLP K16 Modern (23andme File)

1 German (Germany) 2.37
2 French (NorthwestFrance) 4.05
3 French (EastFrance) 4.17
4 French (France) 4.55
5 French (WestFrance) 4.69
6 Scottish (Dumfries_Galloway) 5.15
7 Welsh (Wales) 5.24
8 Scottish (Fife) 5.24
9 Scottish (Grampian) 5.31
10 English (England) 5.62

Admix two population.

1   90.8% German (Germany) + 9.2% Scottish (Argyll_bute) @ 2.21
2   86.6% German (Germany) + 13.4% Irish (Connacht) @ 2.23
3   91.7% German (Germany) + 8.3% Orcadian (Orkney_Islands) @ 2.24
4   87.7% German (Germany) + 12.3% English (Kent) @ 2.25
5   89.2% German (Germany) + 10.8% Dutch (Netherlands) @ 2.28
6   89.6% German (Germany) + 10.4% Shetlandic (Shetland_Islands) @ 2.28
7   93.9% German (Germany) + 6.1% Norwegian (Norwegia) @ 2.29
8   94.6% German (Germany) + 5.4% Icelandic (Iceland) @ 2.3
9   88.1% German (Germany) + 11.9% French (France) @ 2.31
10   92.6% German (Germany) + 7.4% English (England) @ 2.34

DNA.land (3rd party auDNA raw file analysis)

23andMe V4 raw file for myself on DNA.land:

100% West Eurasian.
77% North West European
19% South European (broken into 13% Balkan / 6.1% South/Central European
2.4% Finnish
1.3% Ambiguous

FT-DNA FF raw file for myself on DNA.land:
100% West Eurasian
75% North West European
25% Balkan

Gene Plaza Ancestry

  1. 74% NW European
  2. 14.9% SW European
  3. 8.5% Ambiguous

WeGene

  1. 99.96% French
  2. 0.04% Others

Ancient Origins (auDNA calculators)

Neanderthal Ancestry

23andMe V4 chip

Neanderthal ancestry 2.9% DNA (82nd percentile)  23andMe average European tester is 2.7%

Updated July 2017:  New Experience reports that I have 328 Neanderthal variants, more than 98% of 23andMe customers.

WeGene analysis of above 23andMe raw data

3.325% Neanderthal proportion of more than 81.94% of the users WeGene (Chinese based DNA service).

Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Hunter-Gatherer ancestry

My Y line as we have seen, was most likely in the area of modern day Iran or Iraq, perhaps in the Euphrates and Tigris valleys, or perhaps in the Zagros Mountains, hunting animals such as the Ibex.  My mt-DNA line was most likely in a hunter-gatherer band somewhere in Asia.  Perhaps Central Asia.  What about my other Ice Age ancestors?

David Wesolowski's K7 Basal-rich test

Villabruna-related

The Villabruna cluster represents the DNA found in 13 individuals in Europe from after 14,000 years ago.  They were Late Ice Age hunter-gatherers.  They appear to have links with the Near East.  The current thought is that they replaced earlier groups of hunter-gatherers in Europe.  The DNA of people in the Middle East and Europe pulled together at this time, and they may represent an expansion from the South-East.  Much of the Aegean Sea would have been dry, with low sea levels (glaciation), so the migration may have been easy.  It is believed that they had dark skin, and blue eyes.  They were possibly, the last hunter-gatherers of Europe and the Middle East.  They may have contributed to our DNA both through or either, later Asian or European admixtures.

David gives the English average as 56.7%.  My result is 57.1%

Basal-rich

The Basal Eurasians are a hypothetical "ghost" population derived from DNA studies.  It is suggested that they splintered from other modern humans 45,000 years ago, presumably outside of Africa, somewhere around the Middle East.  They significantly contributed DNA to the Early Neolithic Farmers of the Fertile Crescent and Anatolia, and consequently, on to all of us modern West Eurasians.  

 David gives the English average as 26.5%.  My result is 28.8%

Ancient North Eurasian

Another Ice Age hunter-gatherer "Ghost" population, but this one has been associated with human remains and an Upper Palaeolithic culture (Mal'ta-Buret') at Lake Baikal, Siberia.  We know that it significantly contributes to modern West Eurasians, through earlier admixture on the Eurasian Steppes.  Copper Age pastoralists then carried it westwards into Europe with their later expansion.

David gives the English average as 16.6%.  My result is 14.0%

Neolithic and Bronze Age mix ancestry

My Y line at this time as we have seen, may well been Early Neolithic Farmers in the Fertile Crescent of Mesopotamia.  My mtDNA line would have most likely have been women of the Yamnaya culture on the Eurasian Steppes, in Copper Age pastoralist tribes.

Neolithic and Bronze Age Ancestry K11 Rarer Alleles

This is the K11 admixture calculator with rarer alleles created by Dilawer Kahn, now available for a small fee as a test on Geneplaza.  I had previously commissioned Dilawer to run my 23andme DNA raw data through the calculator, but this is a nicer presentation.  The test seeks to estimate ancient ancestry admixture using his rarer alleles principle.

My results:

Western European Hunter Gatherers

"These were the indigenous populations of Europe that substantially contributed to the genetics of modern Europeans. It is believed that these hunter gatherers arrived in Europe around 45000 years ago from the Near East.".

My Western European Hunter-gatherer admix is 21.7%

Neolithic European

"This population introduced farming to Europe during the Neolithic, and were very likely descended from Neolithic farmers from the Near East. Their genetic signature is best preserved in modern Sardinians and other southern Europeans.".

My Neolithic European admix is 21.7%

Neolithic Anatolian

"These early farmers from Anatolia from about 8000 years ago were the ancestors of the Early European farmers that introduced farming to SE Europe, and replaced the hunter-gatherer cultures that lived there.".

My Neolithic Anatolian admix is 16.4%

Andronova-Srubnaya

"The Andronovo culture is a collection of similar local Bronze Age cultures that flourished around 3000-4000 years ago in western Siberia and the west Asiatic steppe. This culture overlapped with the Srubna culture in the Volga-Ural region of Russia.".

My Andronova-Srubnaya admix is 14.6%

Yamnaya-Poltavka

"The Yamna culture (also known as the Pit Grave culture), was an early Bronze Age culture from the Pontic Eurasian steppe from around 5000 years ago. The Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the homeland of the Proto-Indo-European language.

My Yamnaya-Poltavka admix is 12.6%

Neolithic-Chalcolithic Iran

"Based on Neolithic and chalcolithic period samples recovered from Northwest Iran. The farmers from the Zagros mountain Iran region descended from one of multiple, genetically differentiated hunter-gatherer populations in southwestern Asia.  They are estimated to have separated from Early Neolithic farmers in Anatolia some 46,000 to 77,000 years ago, and show affinities to modern-day Kurd, Iranian, Pakistani and Afghan populations.  The Neolithic Iranian references used for this component, were recovered from the Kurdistan region of Iran, and appear to be around 9000 years old. The Chalcolithic Iranian references have been dated to around 5000 years old.".

My Neolithic-Chalcolithic Iran admix is 7.6%

Neolithic-Bronze Age Levant

"Based on neolithic and bronze-age period samples recovered from the Levant area in the Middle-East. The references for the bronze age Levant farmer (BA) samples were recovered from the Ain Ghazal, Jordan area and were dated to about 4300 years ago.  The first farmers of the southern Levant (Israel and Jordan) and Zagros Mountains (Iran) were strongly genetically differentiated, and each descended from local hunter-gatherers. By the time of the Bronze Age, these two populations and Anatolian-related farmers had mixed with each other and with the hunter- gatherers of Europe to drastically reduce genetic differentiation. The impact of the Near Eastern farmers extended beyond the Near East: farmers related to those of Anatolia spread westward into Europe; farmers related to those of the Levant spread southward into East Africa; farmers related to those from Iran spread northward into the Eurasian steppe; and people related to both the early farmers of Iran and to the pastoralists of he Eurasian steppe spread eastward into South Asia.".

My Neolithic-Bronze Age Levant admix is 4.4%

Eastern Non-African

"Eastern Non Africans(ENAs) are one of the earliest splits from humans that migrated out of Africa to the Near East around 100,000 years ago. It is believed that ENAs split from the population in the Near East around 50,000 years ago. Populations such as the Andamanese Onge and Papuans are modern descendants of ENAs. The ENA component here is based on Papuan references.".

My Eastern Non-African admix is 1%

Global 10 Test

The recent Global 10 test, run by my friend Helgenes50 of the Anthrogenica board, resulted in:

  • 55% Baalberge_MN (European Middle Neolithic)
  • 38% Yamna_Samara (Eurasian Steppe Pastoralist)
  • 7% Loschbour:Loschbour (Late Eurasian hunter-gatherer)

That is 55% European Neolithic Farmer, 38% Yamnaya Steppe Pastoralist, and 7% European hunter-gatherer.

Alternatively, the FT-DNA test, although many in the population genetics community feel that it is unreliable:

FT-DNA My Ancient Origins

  • 9% Metal Age Invader
  • 47% Farmer
  • 44% Hunter-Gatherer
  • 0% Non European

GEDMatch Ancient Calculators

My MDLP K16 Modern Admixture
  • 31% Neolithic (modeled on genomes of first neolithic farmers of Anatolia)
  • 25% Northeast European (ancestry in North-Eastern Europe based on older type of ancestry (WHG, west European Hunter-Gatherer)
  • 22% Steppe (sourced from ancient genome of European Bronze Age pastoralists)
  • 22% Caucasian (derived from genomes of mesolithic Caucasian Hunter-gatherers)

My Eurasia K9 ASI Oracle:

  • 39% Western Hunter-Gatherer
  • 27% Early Neolithic Farmer
  • 15% Eastern Hunter-Gatherer
  • 12% Caucasus Hunter-Gatherer
  • 7% SW Asian
  • 1% Siberian East Asian

My MDLP Modern K11 Oracle:

Admix Results (sorted):


# Population Percent
1 Neolithic 37.33
2 WHG 33.26
3 EHG 23.19
4 Iran-Mesolithic 3.25
5 Basal 2.66

Least-squares method.

Using 1 population approximation:
1 British_Celtic @ 6.948432
2 Bell_Beaker_Germany @ 8.143357
3 Alberstedt_LN @ 8.426399
4 British_IronAge @ 9.027687
5 Halberstadt_LBA @ 10.273615
6 Bell_Beaker_Czech @ 12.190828
7 Hungary_BA @ 12.297826
8 Nordic_MN_B @ 12.959966
9 British_AngloSaxon @ 12.993559
10 Nordic_BA @ 13.170285

Using 4 populations approximation:
1 Bell_Beaker_Germany + Bell_Beaker_Germany + Corded_Ware_Germany + Hungary_CA @ 1.085814
2 BenzigerodeHeimburg_LN + BenzigerodeHeimburg_LN + Corded_Ware_Estonia + Hungary_CA @ 1.089547
3 Alberstedt_LN + Bell_Beaker_Germany + Corded_Ware_Germany + Hungary_CA @ 1.117882
4 Bell_Beaker_Germany + BenzigerodeHeimburg_LN + Hungary_CA + Srubnaya_LBA @ 1.149613
5 Bell_Beaker_Germany + British_IronAge + Hungary_CA + Karsdorf_LN @ 1.185312
6 Alberstedt_LN + BenzigerodeHeimburg_LN + Hungary_CA + Sintashta_MBA @ 1.226794
7 Nordic_BattleAxe + Hungary_BA + Hungary_CA + Karsdorf_LN @ 1.234930
8 Nordic_BattleAxe + BenzigerodeHeimburg_LN + Hungary_CA + Unetice_EBA @ 1.238376
9 Alberstedt_LN + Hungary_BA + Hungary_CA + Yamnaya_Samara_EBA @ 1.247371
10 Bell_Beaker_Germany + Hungary_CA + Nordic_LN + Srubnaya_LBA @ 1.268124

My Gedrosia K15 Oracle:

  • 40% Western Hunter-Gatherer
  • 25% Early European Farmer
  • 21% Caucasus
  • 5% Burusho
  • 5% SW Asian
  • 3% Balochi
  • 1% Siberian

Ancient Eurasia K6 Oracle:

  • 40% West European Hunter-Gatherer
  • 39% Natufian
  • 21% Ancient North Eurasian
  • 1% East Asian

Story of L. My Big Y Test Results

The above Photograph of the Sumela Monastery, Trabzon Mountains, former Pontus, by reibai of Flickr under Creative Commons Licence.  Close to the home of my nearest recorded Big Y cousins today.

The Big Y Test

The FTDNA results came back.  As with the Y111 test results, they were three weeks earlier than scheduled.  So what has this test told me, about the story of my Y-DNA, and it's exotic L-M20 genetic marker? It was not a disappointment.

Warning

Remember, I am only telling the story of one single line of descent.  Y-DNA merely provides a convenient genetic marker of mutation, that can be compared and traced with others.  It does not define anyone.  From an anthropological perspective, haplogroups are of value in a collective sense - to a population.  I no doubt share the story of my Y with many more people alive today.  I may be a carrier of it, but it is also your story, just as the haplogroups that you carry, are also my story - through our mothers and shared descent.  Y-DNA passes strictly on only one line of descent - from father to son.  It is not inherited nor passed down by women.  Only on that one strict paternal line of descent. The Y haplogroup is only a convenient marker of one line.

The Y Haplogroup L

Y Haplogroup K formed in a paternal lineage of hunter-gatherer fathers and sons, that share a MRCA (most recent common ancestor) during the Upper Palaeolithic, circa 45,400 years ago.  Where did my Y ancestors live at that time?  We think that they lived in Western or Southern Asia.  Iran is a favourite proposal. My earlier Y ancestors had most likely exited Africa 20,000 years earlier, and were well established in Asia.  They had most likely met and confronted another archaic human species, The Neanderthal. This was however, a time of great expansion by humans.  The first anatomically modern humans had recently entered Europe, while other moderns u were arriving in Australia.  The Ice Age was in a flux, but glaciation was advancing.

Our most recent common Y ancestor to carry Y Haplogroup LT lived circa 42,600 years ago.  Then a mutation in the Y-DNA lead to the formation of Y Haplogroup L, with a most recent common ancestor 23,200 years ago, close to the time of the Last Glacial Maximum, when ice sheets were reaching their maximum positions.  K, LT, and early L, most likely all originated in Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer populations living during the last Ice Age, in the area of modern day Iran and Iraq.  It was a time of increased stress on human populations, that were having to adapt to some severe environmental challenges, and may have at times faced isolation into a number of Ice Age Refuges.

Around 18,400 years ago, M317 appeared on their Y-DNA, then circa 14,000 years ago, my line (L-SK1214), diverged away from L-M349.  L1b today, occurs mainly in Western Asia, from Anatolia to Afghanistan.  L1a occurs mainly in India, Sri Lanka, and in Pakistan.  Where did all of this occur?  We don't know yet.  There is so little data.  Some other divergences popped up in Southern and Central Asia.  Some of these sub clades in India and Pakistan, are the most numerous of L today.  However, the finger keeps pointing at Western Asia, as the source of much of L divergence, particularly in L1b sub clades such as M317, and M349.  But we don't yet know what part Europe played if any.  Both M317 and M349 crops at low frequencies across Europe, particularly along the south coast, and in Italy.  L2 (L595) crops at at low frequency almost exclusively in Europe.  Altogether, L forms only around 0.3% across Europe as a whole, yet, this diversity sits at low frequencies scattered across the continent.

Iran may equally be a key.  We believe that it could have been home to L for a very long time, but we have very little data from that part of the world.  L is also missing from ancient DNA.  A hypothesis has been proposed that some early Neolithic farmers from Anatolia, may have carried L, and may have carried it into Europe for example.  All speculation, but it could explain some of these old divisions of L that we are starting to see across Europe and Western Asia.  Some of the earliest Eurasian L Y-DNA extracted so far has only very recently been reported - in populations of Iron Age Huns, that had migrated westwards into Europe.

My Big Y Results

So what did the test tell me about my line?  Was I descended from a recent immigrant from India or Pakistan?  An Iron Age Hun?  An Italian?  How about a Pontic Greek, or a Persian?  Where do I fit in?

The answers provided by the Big Y were a bit of a shock.  I had 90 novel SNPs in my Y-DNA, that have not been seen before in any other Big Y Test, not even in any of the other 23 Big Y test results within the FTDNA Y Haplogroup L project.  The last SNP to terminate, that has already been reported, was SK1414.  The administrator has not yet found it's non-FTDNA origin, but believes that it came from a test in Iran.  Therefore, my sub clade can now be declared as L-SK1214.

My nearest FTDNA Big Y matches were two from Pontic Greek ancestry.  However, here is the crunch.  The project administrator calculates that even these testers, my closest known Y cousins that have so far tested to Big Y level, last shared a common Y ancestor with me 13,000 years ago.

When I have my BAM file, and submit it to the Yfull tree, it should make a significant alteration to the branches, as my lineage of SK1414, appears to branch off from L1b, perhaps only 1000 years after L1b appeared, and before the PH8 lineage associated with my Pontic Greek cousins formed.

L-SK1414 (L1b2c)

So my new terminal SNP SK1414 separated from the Pontic Greek PH8 lineage around 13,000 years ago.  What was happening in Western Asia then?  This was towards the end of the last Cold Stage.  There were some cold fluctuations in the Ice Age climate, with some advances in glaciation, before they finally started to melt back for the present interglacial period.  Perhaps some of these climatic stresses were involved?  a severe freeze took place around 12,700 years ago. 

My most recent common ancestors to any other Big Y testers - the Pontic Greek samples, lived somewhere in Western Asia around 13,000 years ago.  They most likely were Western Asian ibex hunter-gatherers.  The earliest sign of agriculture in the region, the Pre Pottery Neolithic A doesn't take off until around 10,300 years ago.

Where have my Y ancestors been over the past 13,000 years?  That is the big question that I am probably unlikely to answer within my lifetime.  More testing, by more L testers in the future may reveal more, as would the results of more ancient DNA from excavations.  If I had to bank money on it, I'd say that my Y ancestors were most likely to provenance to the Fertile Crescent of the Neolithic Revolution.  Perhaps in the river valleys of Iraq / Iran.  They may have gone on to take part in the Pre Pottery Neolithic A Culture there.  That might account for their existence over the next few thousands of years.  However, when did my lineage enter Europe?  Did it arrive with Anatolian Early Neolithic farmers?  Or did it arrive later?  Perhaps even, much later?  I just cannot answer that.  Suggestions are most welcome.


The above photograph taken of the excavation of Jarmo, an Early Neolithic village in Iraqi Kurdistan, dated to 9,100 years before present.  From Wikimedia Commons by user Emrad284.

The STR testing, and the matching with the Chandler family might suggest that my Y line arrived in Southern England quite recently, perhaps during the Medieval.  However, I am acutely aware of how very few English have yet tested - that more L could turn up, that rewrite that arrival date.
Unofficial proposed tree by Gökhan Zuzigo

Conclusion

It seems that I have 12,700 years of unwritten or detected family history to research on my paternal line.  The Big Y test told me that I have a hunter-gatherer ancestor, somewhere in Western Asia, most likely Iraq / Iran, perhaps 13,000 years ago.  Then a rather long gap, until the Brooker surname appears on parish registers in the Thames Valley of Southern England, leading down to myself, and onto my son.

The Chandler family, judging by the comparative STR evidence, are Y cousins, with a shared Y ancestry until circa 330 - 700 years ago.

That's it.  We were missing for a long time.  I'm looking forward to trying to work out where my missing ancestors were for thousands of years.  I'm looking forward to seeing more L1b tests appear on Yfull and on the Y haplogroup L Project.  Please test.

The above photograph on Rock Art in Iran, taken by dynamosquito on Flickr linked here under a Creative Commons Licence.  The Ibex seems to feature frequently in prehistoric rock art in the region, and perhaps was a primary prey of our ancestors.