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FamilyTreeDNA starts rolling out MyOrigins v.3

It’s admixture estimate update time again.

And The Legal Genealogist is so relieved.

Not because the results are any better than we’ve gotten any other time from any other company.

But rather because we’re getting all the “whaddayamean I’m not Irish” updates all at once this year so we can move past it quickly.

Yes, the MyOrigins version 3 update is rolling out from FamilyTreeDNA, just as the DNA Origins update did recently at Ancestry.1

And, as usual, the end result is numbers all over the map.

MyOrigins v3

I was 87% West and Central Europe and 11% Scandinavian, with a trace of Asia Minor and the West Middle East.2

Now, I’m 48% Central Europe, 41% Great Britain, and 6% Magyar, with traces of Scandinavian, Baltic, Sephardic Jewish, and Southern Caucasus.3

Or maybe I’m 32% Germanic Europe, 25% England & Northwestern Europe, 16% Norway, 13% Scotland 8% Ireland, 4% Wales and 2% Eastern Europe & Russia.4

My sister was 88% West and Central Europe, 5% East Europe, and 5% Sephardic, with traces of South Central Africa and the British Isles.5

Now, she’s 57% Central Europe, 30% Great Britain, 7% Ireland, and 4% Baltic with a trace of Southern Caucasus.6

Or maybe she’s 31% England & Northwestern Europe, 17% Sweden, 16% Scotland, 12% Germanic Europe, 9% Norway, 8% Eastern Europe & Russia, 4% Ireland, 2% France and 1% Benin & Togo.7

And our half brother — whose ancestry is 50% German and 50% Swedish — was 65% Scandinavian and 33% East Europe, with a trace of Asia Minor.8

He’s now 74% Scandinavian, 9% Great Britain, 14% West Slavic, and 2% Baltic, with a trace of Southern Caucasus.9

Now it’s pretty obvious there are some weirdnesses here. My half brother has absolutely no British ancestry whatsoever — unless some Swedish Viking grabbed a British girl and took her home hundreds of years ago. Yet he’s showing now with 9% Great Britain.

And although he tests out as a paternal half brother both in autosomal and YDNA tests, he shares none — not a drop — of the Central and West Europe ancestry the rest of us got from our shared father.

And you know what that means, right?

Do I even have to say it again?

There’s a reason admixture estimates are called estimates.

They’re really really good at the continental level, distinguishing between Europe, Asia and Africa, just to name three continents. But once they get below the continental level, to a regional or even country level, every single admixture estimate from every single DNA testing company starts to run into issues: country boundaries have changed; entire populations have moved; people from one area have invaded and intermarried with people from another.

So — let me repeat one more time — we have to keep in mind always what these admixture estimates do: they take the DNA of living people — us, the test takers — and they compare it to the DNA of other living people — people whose parents and grandparents and, sometimes, even great grandparents all come from one geographic area. Then they try to extrapolate backwards into time. Nobody is out there running around, digging up 500- or 1,000-year-old bones, extracting DNA for us to compare our own DNA to.

So coming up with these percentages in these tests requires this fundamental assumption: that the DNA of the reference populations — those groups whose parents, grandparents, great grandparents and more all come from the same area — is likely to reflect what we might see if we could test the DNA of people who lived in that area hundreds and thousands of years ago.

In other words, let’s keep in mind, every time, that these percentages are:

• estimates,

• estimates based on comparisons not to actual historical populations but rather to small groups of people living today, and

• estimates based purely on the statistical odds that those small groups tell us something meaningful about past populations.

Which all means we all need to repeat, one more time:

“It’s not soup yet.”10

Got that?

Let’s go back to trying to figure out who my second great grandfather’s parents were, shall we?

And enough with the percentages already yet.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Enough with the percentages,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 27 Sep 2020).


  1. See Judy G. Russell, “In 2020, still not soup…,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 13 Sep 2020 ( : accessed 27 Sep 2020).
  2. MyOrigins v.2, for Judy G. Russell, ( : accessed 6 June 2020.
  3. MyOrigins v.3, for Judy G. Russell, ( : accessed 26 Sep 2020.
  4. DNA Origins, for Judy G. Russell, AncestryDNA ( : accessed 26 Sep 2020).
  5. MyOrigins v.2, for (Sister 1), ( : accessed 6 June 2020.
  6. MyOrigins v.3, for (Sister 1), ( : accessed 26 Sep 2020.
  7. DNA Origins, for (Sister 1), AncestryDNA ( : accessed 26 Sep 2020).
  8. MyOrigins v.2, for (Brother 1), ( : accessed 6 June 2020.
  9. MyOrigins v.3, for (Brother 1), ( : accessed 26 Sep 2020.
  10. For those too young to remember the reference, the Lipton Soup Company had a string of ads in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The mother in the ad would begin preparing Lipton soup, a child would ask, over and over, “is it soup yet?” and the mother would answer “not yet” over and over until finally she’d say, “It’s soup!” So “not soup yet” means “not finished” or “not ready.”
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