Friday, September 13, 2013

New Ethnicity Estimates from

You'll remember that when Ancestry came out with their predictions of my ancestry, I wasn't all that impressed.

Below is a look at what they said my ethnicity was:

Today, some lucky Ancestry DNA customers got a first glimpse at a program they will be rolling out for all of their DNA customers over the next few months.

Count me as one of the lucky ones.  Below are the "new" ethnic predictions Ancestry has made for yours truly.

I'm still studying it, but I really do like the documentation and the graphics. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Interesting Article on Racial Origins of Melungeons and oh, yes - probably The Vinton County Group too!

One of my Internet friends (and also as it happens, a distant, distant, distant cousin) sent me a link to an article written in October of 2002 by a George R. Gibson entitled "Mellungeons and Myth."  The article, in fact, appeared in Appalachian Quarterly in December 2002.

It's a great piece looking at the possible racial origins of Melungeons. Since the Vinton County Group has the same Virginian Gibson heritage, the information relates to our own mixed racial origins. 

Mr. Gibson's conclusions after doing research, mirrors very closely to my own beliefs on the subject.

In any case, if you are enamored, like I am, with the idea of our mixed racial roots you might like to take a peek at this article.

You can find it HERE.

Thanks, J for forwarding this to me. :-)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Every Picture Tells a Story - Chromosome Painting

One of the things that has fascinated me right from the beginning was the mixed racial aspect of my Thacker branch of the family tree. But I am seven generations removed from David Thacker and his wife Sally Lemay Thacker.  Who knows how many generations the two of them were removed from their own non-European ancestors.

With each successive generation that married into European only families, my branch of the family lost all traces of their non-European heritage.  

So when the results of my DNA testing came back showing only European ethnicity I was not surprised – disappointed, yes, but not surprised. 

But what if lingering traces of my minority roots still remained in small segments? Segments so small that they didn’t show up in my overall ethnic mixture, but large enough to be recognized on the chromosomal level.  

That’s what the chromosomal painting features do at Gedmatch.  Simplified, your raw data is looked at and compared to the base data set, and based on those comparisons, the ethnicity of each segment of the chromosome is “painted” so you can “see” the different pieces of ethnic heritage.  

In my last post, I showed you my overall ethnic heritage according to Eurogenes K36 calculator.  Theoretically, I could use that same K36 calculator to paint my 22 pairs of chromosomes. The problems with doing that are twofold. 

1.    1.   It’s impossible for the computer to show 36 separate colors, and therefore the color red, for example, is used for Native American, Volga-Ural and Indo-Chinese.  Though  you can easily see red painted on a chromosome, you can’t be sure what the color means. 

2   2.  According to Gedmatch, there is a glitch in the program, and it can only paint up to 26 different ethnicities.  If you have a very diverse ethnic background, (over 26 of the listed ethnicities) you won’t get an accurate painting. 

So I picked Eurogene’s K12 to do my chromosome painting.  Here’s what is says about my overall admixture

South Asian                            1.00%
Caucasus                               2.98%
Southwest Asian                     2.60%
North American Indian &      
Mediterranean                        14.52%
East Asian                             
West African             
Volga-Ural                               8.63%
South Baltic                           15.43%
Western European                   28.41%

Here’s what the admixture looks like showing all 22 pairs of  painted chromosomes. 

The chromosomes are numbered left to right, and the segments run from bottom to top.  You can see that the majority of my chromosome are painted in the two hues of purple for Western European and North Sea.

My paternal grandmother’s family came to this country in 1906.  They came from a place called Pomerania, which is near the Baltic Sea.  Their contribution can clearly be seen in the deep blue portions of the painting. 

If my paternal grandfather had had his mitochondrial DNA tested, (he is a direct mitochondrial descendant from Frances J. Thacker) he like the other descendant of Frances J. Thacker we had tested, would have been found to have the U3a1 Haplogroup.  This particular haplogroup has its highest incidence in countries surrounding the Black Sea.  These countries would be found in the Caucasus, painted in Orange and the upper portion of the Southwest Asia area, painted in brown. 

But what I am really looking for are the American Indian segments (painted in Yellow) and the African segments (painted in mint green).  If I squint, I can make out a few tiny slivers of yellow and mint green on some of the chromosomes.  

My next post will take a look at these.



Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Autosomal DNA and Gedmatch

Okay, the truth is I’ve been meaning to write some posts about my experience with using Ancestry’s autosomal DNA test.  But whoa, new information keeps being tossed my way, and like the little pin ball in Monster Bash, I keep getting bounced from one thing to the next.  

You will recall that Ancestry had given my ethnicity as 42 % Scandinavian (What!), 38% British Isles and 20% Southern European (Double What!!).  Not what my paper trail in genealogy says, but hey, I’m not a scientist. 

One of the cool things Ancestry has done (after much pressure from the Genetic Genealogy segment of the Genealogist community) is to give us access to our raw data.  Which I promptly downloaded.  I even looked at it, for all the good, it did me.  Fortunately, for me, I have an engineer Internet genealogy buddy who is way too smart for his own good, and he could look at the data and tell me things like where he and I matched. He also was smart enough to practically drag me into putting the raw data on Gedmatch. 

Gedmatch is a wonderful site for “playing” with your DNA results.  You upload your information. (Their instructions were clear enough that even a non-techie like me could do it.) Then you wait.  I don’t know how long you wait because; quite frankly, at the time I didn’t really see the value of uploading the information.  It could be days.  It could be weeks.  But about a month later, I went back, logged in and I was ready to go.

Some cool things you can do.

1.       You can predict your eye color – They came pretty close to getting the dark gray blue color of my iris correct, the gray outer circle was also right, but missed slightly on the color surrounding my pupil.  Very cool!

2.        It can predict if your parents had ancestors in common – according to Gedmatch, there is a 0% chance that my mom and dad had a common ancestor.  I haven’t found anything to contradict this.

3.       You can get a list of matches from everybody who has entered their raw data into Gedmatch.  That means not only other Ancestry DNA alumni, but also those individuals from 23 and Me, and Family Tree DNA.  Think of the possibilities. 

4.       You can compare your matches to see on which chromosomes you match, and on exactly which part of that chromosome the match occurs.

5.       You can run programs predicting your admixture (ethnicity in Ancestry speak.)

6.       Other cool things too numerous to mention.  No, trust me; if you’ve wanted to let your inner Nerd go wild, this is the place!

It’s item number five, I want to talk about today, Admixture Gedmatch style.

There are four different individuals, genetic genealogists if you will, who have contributed various admixture calculators to the website.  Three of the individuals concentrate on studying European DNA, and there is a fourth individual who focuses on Middle Eastern and Asian DNA.  They use both DNA results that have been published elsewhere, plus they have recruited participants online to fill in the gaps. 

For example, Davidski (Polako) who runs the EurogenesGenetic Ancestry Project, has created several different calculators that you can run.  With the K36 calculator you can compare your DNA to 36 different “ancestral clusters.”  For his “Pygmy” category, he used DNA donations from the Mbuti and the Biaka peoples, to give you one example of the datasets he is using to compare my DNA data.

 Below are the results that I get when I run my own DNA using the K36 calculator.


And below is the pretty little graphic that Gedmatch made for me:

Davidski says about this calculator:

An important point to keep in mind is not to take the ancestry proportions too literary. If you're, say, English, and you get an Iberian score of 12% this doesn't actually mean you have recent ancestry from Spain or Portugal. What it means is that 12% of your alleles look typical of the reference samples classified as Iberian, and this figure might only indicate recent Iberian admixture if it's clearly higher than those of other English users.”

He also says:

“The main purpose of the Eurogenes K36 is to help users unravel the ethnic origins of local areas of their genomes (aka. half-segments), hence the high number of ancestral categories, some of which are very specific. In other words, the test is mainly a chromosome painting utility.”

 So, okay, I shouldn’t take this all too literally.  And it’s more of a tool for chromosome painting.  Huh, you say.  What is chromosome painting? In this context, Chromosome painting is a way to look at the individual chromosomes to see what the various ethnicities look like graphically on that chromosome.  If you’re not following this, it’s okay.  In my next post, we will play show and tell to give you a better idea about chromosome painting.

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