Ancestry at 23andMe: New Insights for Sheridan

We first met Sheridan* in the fall of 2010. As an adoptee, she was curious about her DNA and what 23andMe might be able to tell her. With the help of old friends and some new ones on 23andMe, Sheridan learned about her global origins, which include an African-American father and a mother of European descent, and connected with DNA relatives. She even discovered that she and her good friend Brian are 4th cousins, which means she has some Irish ancestry. Together, they figured out a branch of her family tree.

For a quick Ancestry primer, check out:

Ancestry at 23andMe: What Can You Learn?

Follow Sheridan’s journey from the beginning:*

Introducing Sheridan
Sheridan’s Global Origins
Sheridan’s Got Relatives
Finding Connections
Old Roots and New Horizons

*Sheridan and her story are works of fiction and any resemblance to actual people or events is purely coincidental.

For Sheridan, learning about herself on 23andMe did more than just kindle a love for the Irish. By combining the information she learned about her ancestral origins with information from some of the DNA Relatives she found, she and Brian were able to fill in the first pieces of her genealogical history.

Since then, Sheridan’s filled in even more of the family tree on her mother’s side. Her second cousin Mike, identified through 23andMe as a DNA Relative, was able to track down the name of his grandmother’s sister — a woman very likely to be Sheridan’s own grandmother. To Brian’s delight, Mike also found the name of his grandmother’s sister’s husband, a Fitzpatrick descended from the same Irish ancestors as Brian.

Brian always kept her in the loop on 23andMe, though. Some more mutual friends joined and they quickly started sharing on 23andMe. Sheridan remembers when the Neanderthal Ancestry feature came out. There was an unofficial contest over who had the most Neanderthal DNA; Brian was disappointed that he was solidly average for a Northern European person. Sheridan tried to cheer him up by pointing out that he still had the most caveman of their friends with mostly European ancestry.

“Besides,” she said, “I only have 2.2 percent Neanderthal!”

“That’s because Neanderthals were never even in Africa to begin with,” he snorted, but he seemed mollified. Sheridan, far from feeling shortchanged, found it fascinating that even a small percentage of her DNA could be traced back to these prehistoric “cousins.”

But Brian’s Stone Age enthusiasm paled in comparison to his excitement over Ancestry Composition. A new and improved replacement for the popular Ancestry Painting feature, Ancestry Composition gives a much more detailed breakdown of a person’s genetic ancestry. Brian called Sheridan at two in the morning when it came out.

“It’s here!” he exclaimed when she groggily answered the phone.

“Unghh wha–?” she mumbled.

“Ancestry Composition! Like Ancestry Painting, but way better. Remember? Your Ancestry Painting was cool, but your Composition is even cooler. Mine’s still kind of boring, though. But you should look at yours! And I can see it split it up by which side I got from my mom and which side from my dad and you can zoom in and out and change the thresholds… hey, you still there? Sheridan? Hello?”

So maybe two in the morning wasn’t the best time for Brian to tell Sheridan about Ancestry Composition. But the next day they met up at the coffee shop to explore the new feature together.

Brian quickly explained that 23andMe had updated its main ancestry feature with lots of examples of people with full ancestry from different parts of the world — like South Asia, France, or Finland. Some of these people were part of research studies and their genetic data is publicly available. But many of the people 23andMe used to develop its ancestry analysis are 23andMe customers themselves.

“Of course, you can only learn what, say, ‘Welsh DNA’ looks like if you have some examples of it,” he said. “The more examples you can learn from, the better your analysis will be. And 23andMe has a lot of different types of examples.”

Brian clicked on the ‘+’ symbol in the “Resolution” bar to zoom in. “It’s still all European for me — no surprise — but now it can break it down into sub-regions.” The list of ancestries on the right of the screen expanded as he clicked and when he hovered the mouse pointer over the darker blue ring the map zoomed in to the British Isles. “See? 99% British and Irish!” he said, puffing out his chest, which today was sporting, perhaps not accidentally, a green “Kiss me, I’m Irish!” t-shirt.

Sheridan rolled her eyes. “Ok, ok, you were saying mine was cooler, though, right?”

“Oh, right. Yeah.”

Sheridan scooted him aside and pulled her Ancestry Composition up on the screen. The rings quickly morphed into concentric stacks of bright colors with a rainbow-colored map in the middle. “Ooh,” she breathed. “Yeah, that’s pretty cool.”

According to the new analysis, Sheridan’s DNA was about 62% European, 37% Sub-Saharan African, and 1.2% East Asian or Native American. The rest of her DNA was unassigned, meaning it couldn’t be mapped confidently to any specific population.

“Africa isn’t broken down into sub-regions yet the way Europe is,” Brian said, pointing to the pink stripe, “but 23andMe is going to update this soon.”

“Hm, I guess I can wait a little longer,” said Sheridan. “It’s nice to see all the European populations, though. Look, there’s the Irish ancestry for me, too!”

She already knew that she probably had some Irish ancestry based on the fact that she and 99% Irish Brian were 4th cousins and they’d traced their Irish family connection through her second cousin Mike, but it was somehow gratifying to see it spelled out so clearly on her screen. She could also see that she had some Eastern European and even a bit of Native American ancestry.

There was also a small dark blue band in her Composition labeled as “Ashkenazi”. “That might actually be interesting,” Brian mused, “Let’s look into that later.”

For now, Ancestry Composition kept them busy as they explored their friends’ results. Miguel had a colorful Composition like Sheridan, except it had much more Native American and much less African. Mesut, Sheridan’s Turkish friend, was mainly Middle Eastern and European.

“Did Camille know she has Native American ancestry?” she asked, pointing to the 3.3% Native American in her Ancestry Composition.

“Not before she did 23andMe,” said Brian. “When she saw that result she did some digging and it turns out that her paternal grandfather was one-eighth Chippewa!”

He went to the drop down menu and selected another friend of theirs, Jamie. “This is pretty cool, too. Jamie’s half Askhenazi Jewish, and since her parents are also on 23andMe you can use the ‘Split View’ setting to see which side of the family it’s from.”

The map in the middle disappeared and the labels “Father” and “Mother appeared on either side of a vertical line splitting the colored rings in half. Sheridan could see that the Ashkenazi ancestry was clearly from Jamie’s mother’s side.

“Wow, that’s cool,” said Sheridan. She thought for a second. “So if I do end up learning who my mother is, and if I’m able to find her, and if she wants to do 23andMe… would this be able to tell me more about my father’s side, too?”

Brian nodded. “That’ a lot of ‘ifs’, but yeah, I think so. You just need one parent for it to tell which half of your DNA came from that parent. Then by default, the other half came from the other parent.”

“Whew.” Sheridan sat back. “This whole genetic ancestry thing just got even more interesting.”

To be continued…


  • Walt

    I know that a man has Y & X and the X will go back on his mother’s line. But a woman with a X from her mother & a X from her father, how do they trace back on her mother’s X line & not on the father’s X line?

    • ScottH

      A woman does not get yDNA from her father. But a woman can have a her brother, father, paternal uncle or her paternal uncles son, or her paternal grandfather tested to learn more about her paternal line.

      • Christina

        I never knew my father, and he is deceased. As far as I know, I have no siblings. So I have no male relatives that I can ask to be tested. Will my own test tell me anything about my father’s side of the family?

        • ScottH

          Hello Christina,
          We cannot tell you about your paternal line or what your paternal haplogroup is, because the Y chromosome is passed down exclusively from father to son. A woman’s paternal haplogroup can be inferred from her father’s or brother’s haplogroup. In your case that wouldn’t be possible. That said we can tell you about relatives on both your maternal and paternal side because we do autosomal testing. The autosomes are the 22 pairs of non-sex chromosomes that you inherit from both your parents.
          Unlike other genetic genealogy services that identify relationships on only the paternal or maternal lines, our DNA Relatives tool can identify relationships on any branch of your family tree. So a close relationship such as your paternal grandmother would be invisible to other genetic genealogy services (since she doesn’t share your maternal or paternal haplogroup), but would be easily identified using DNA Relatives.

        • Tish

          I’m kind of in the same boat. I’m adopted and I know with this test I’ll find out about my mother’s side and hopefully some family from my mother’s side. But, I’d like to know my father’s side.

    • Stephen

      To answer your question, Walt, mitochondrial DNA is specifically related to X chromosomes. A mitochondrion is a separate organelle in an egg cell with its own DNA. The sperm cell that joins with the egg has no mitochondrion in it. After fertilization occurs, the mitochondrion (from the mother) gets recopied into every cell of the developing child. That is why mitochondrial DNA is used to trace a mother’s lineage. It doesn’t have anything to do with the X chromosome.

  • My brother completed the paternal DNA ,for our father with i found very informative.

  • Will you guys ever be partnering with another companies database such as

    Curious as to combining the two services…

    • ScottH

      We have no plans for partnerships. You can upload your Gedcom data from other sites and use it on 23andMe however.

      • Susan

        I was wondering the same thing….right now if I want to find DNA relatives that went through Ancestry or another program, I have to pay to have testing done again, right? Or is there a way to look at the genetic data with other sites and their registrants?

        • ScottH

          If you tested with 23andMe you do not have to test again to find DNA relatives.

  • Darrell

    23andme says I am 3.1% neanderthal. Spencer Wells Geno 2.0 says I am 1.8 neanderthal and 1.3% Denisovan (funny that adds to 3.1). Any idea why the discrepancy and which is more likely to be correct. What is used to determine neanderthal ancestry?

    • ScottH

      Thanks for the note. I’m not totally familiar with Geno 2.0’s analysis, but from our understanding quite a few of their users report results that show they have Denisovan. That would imply that these individuals and you have Melanesia ancestry. I can say that we feel very strongly about the accuracy of our estimate and direct you to our White Paper that outlines the science behind how we reached that percentage.

  • Anthony

    How do we know if the 1.2% Native American /Asian is real?

  • reggie

    Now this person is biracial.How does she have “1.2% Native American /East Asian”? I believe that’s a false percent.I believe that if someone is half black and half white and THEY get “1% or 2 Native American East Asian” then that’s saying that the “1% or 2% Native American/East Asian” percents that African Americans get are most likely NOT real Native American or East Asian ancestry.

    • ScottH

      Actually 1 percent is significant enough to indicate some Native American ancestry.

      • reggie

        Why does Henry Lois Gates says “Only five percent of African Americans have any significant Native American ancestry”?

  • reggie

    My name got messed up.It’s Reggie. I’ve emailed 23andme a few times about this,

    • ScottH

      We’ve made the correction.

  • Rebecca Parker

    My cousin agreed to get his DNA tested at 23 and me. So, his paternal information should be the same right? How do we combine our DNA results so I can have the information put into my account?

    • ScottH

      Rebecca, It would have to be a male cousin who shares your paternal ancestry, so that would be your father’s brother’s son. You can share ancestry information and designate the relationship when you select sharing. In addition, if you create a family tree once you enter them into the tree you can select them from your shares.

  • BeatisOver

    Article said:
    “Did Camille know she has Native American ancestry?” she asked, pointing to the 3.3% Native American in her Ancestry Composition.
    “Not before she did 23andMe,” said Brian. “When she saw that result she did some digging and it turns out that her paternal grandfather was one-eighth

    Her paternal grandfather is 1/8, would make her 1/32? 3.3% is incorrect or she has a little bit more NA. Does make much sense.

    But sure, whatever.

    • Scott McNay

      Except for Y chromosomes and mitochondria, genes are inherited randomly. Therefore she could inherit all or none of whatever Native American traits her grandfather had. although such extremes are unlikely.

  • reggie

    Just about every African American gets a “1% or 2% Native American/East Asian” result now when they would get “0% Native American” and “0% East Asian” on the old Ancestrybydna 2.5 (now from DNA Diagnostics Center.Not to be confused with’s Ancestrydna). I believe if this woman is biracial (has a white parent and a black parent),if both her parents were to do a test and the white parent showed no Native American/East Asian but the black parent showed a “1% or 2% Native American/East Asian” result as the daughter did,then it would be clear that these “1% or 2% Native American/East Asian” results that they are giving African Americans are false results and there is still a ways to go with these tests, at least when it comes to African American test takers.

    • Bri

      I’m african american and I have relatives who have asian ancestry as well as native american because her dad is creole. I don’t think it’ s impossible to be african american and have native american ancestry.

      • ScottH

        Many African Americans have Native American ancestry.

        • blethal


          What I want to ask is why many African Americans show East Asian on their ancestry composition? Some don’t but many do. If it is Native Arican why does it show Asian? Most Europeans with Native ancestry show Native with lesser East Asian. I would think it is from the same sorcery? I saw one AA with 4% East Asian and this person has Indian Blood so I’m confused .

        • blethal

          Sorry, I meant the Asian in AA is from. the same source since West Africans i seen don’t have Asian.

        • blethal

          Just from some AA profile’s there Native American seems to be Moe assigned to East Asian specifically.

          Sorry for the many posts. I can’t edit the previous

  • reggie

    I see that the person named “Sheridan” is fictional

  • Patricia

    Sheridan is 62% European, 37% Sub-Saharan African, and 1.2% East Asian or Native American. The rest of her DNA was unassigned? So how can Sheridan have 100.2% of her DNA assigned and still have some leftover? This seems to be wonky math!

    • Hi Patricia,

      The numbers stated in the text actually were rounded (“about 62%…”). If you look at her Ancestry Composition graphic, Sheridan actually has 61.7% European, 37.1% African, and 1.2% Asian/Native American, with < 0.1% unassigned. This adds up to 100% assigned and a little bit unassigned, which may still seem strange but it can be chalked up to rounding again since these numbers only go to one decimal point. Hope this clears things up!

  • Bri

    So, because I’m a female, I wouldn’t be able to get insight into my fathers ancestry? Would I have to get my brother to get his DNA tested?

    • ScottH

      Since the Y chromosome is passed down exclusively from father to son, it is impossible for us to tell from a female’s genetic information what her paternal haplogroup is.
      However, a female’s paternal haplogroup can be inferred from her father’s or brother’s haplogroup. Females also share their paternal haplogroups with distant male relatives connected through the paternal line (e.g. paternal uncles or nephews, paternal male cousins, paternal half-brothers).
      For a little bit more on the Y chromosome check out: “Why the Y?”
      While you cannot learn about your father’s haplogroup unless you have a male relative on your paternal side of the family tested, you do get DNA Relative matches from both sides of your family. Because 23andMe does autosomal testing, you would get DNA relative matches from both your maternal and paternal side of the family. Some female customers find that information offers them important clues to their paternal side of the family.

    • Porsha

      I considered myself just black before I had my dna analyzed by and come to find out I am 19% Indigenous(Native) 55% African and 26% European and you see my profile pic. I look like a regular black woman.. I will gladly give u my info to prove it to u if you like.

  • lb

    I just ord the test for ancestry. I am a male and researching my grandmothers line. If there are Jewish markers there will they reflect in the results. Especially in regards to my g-grandfather via my dad via my grandmother? Also does the test for ancestry include the medical test or is that another amount?
    Thanks so much…

    • ScottH

      Hi, With a single test we report back both ancestry and health information. When we report back your Ancestry Composition we do look at Ashkenazi ancestry specifically and we can report back that information.

  • Tiffany

    i have a serious problem with the results i got. i have it on paper that there is cherokee and wyandot in my mother’s background from her mom and cherokee and blackfoot from her father’s side with her father’s mother being full and her father dad being half cherokee and brit. but i have NO native american markers show up in my results. how is this possible.

  • Jeff

    I have the same comments as Tiffany. It was always well-known in my family that my gg or ggg grandmother was full blood Cherokee, yet my results show no American Indian and 100% European. Can these results be possible if there is an American Indian that recent in my tree? Thanks for any comments. JT

    • ScottH

      If your great great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee you should indeed be able to see that in your ancestry composition. That would be four generations back. Where it gets harder to detect is when you go back six or seven generations. And farther back than that the signal might get lost entirely.

      • Tiffany

        than what happened with my results because i have a great grandmother on my mom’s side that was full. and yet you have me as 99.5% European with no Native American. and i know that to be incorrect and apparently so does Jeff. thankfully i didn’t buy this test to try and prove the Native but now i am faced with the dilema that the Ancestry comp. is incorrect so what else of my results are.

        • ScottH

          If your great grandmother on your mother’s side of the family was Native American we should be able to detect that, but if she was not fully Native American it’s possible that your Native American ancestry would not be detected after three generations. It is important to note that sometimes, even if a person’s great, great grandmother, for instance, was considered to be Native American, the DNA does not reveal the Native American ancestry because evidence is lost each generation. In general, however, Native American ancestry within the last few generations is likely to reveal itself through our features.

        • kchan

          There should be Native DNA markers in the autosomal DNA.

  • India Moreno

    What if you dont know any of your male siblings on our fathers side of family to determine his nationality what test do ou do then.I thought that the autosomal testing was new and could take a strong look at a womans paternal liniege as well?

    • ScottH

      Hi India,
      While autosomal testing as done by 23andMe will tell you about relatives on all branches of your family tree — including on your paternal side — it can’t specifically identify your paternal line. Our testing will also be able to tell you your Ancestry Composition — the geographic origins of your DNA. If you already know your mother’s ancestry, you can deduce what came from your father. If your mother has been tested and you share on 23andMe, our Ancestry Composition tool will split your ancestry composition showing what came from your mother and what came from your father.( That said, if you have no male relatives on your paternal line that can be tested we cannot determine the paternal haplogroup that your father belonged to.

  • Marian Fox

    I am very confused about what I’m going to be able to see. My father is deceased and I have no siblings.
    Will I get the full composition or just my maternal side?

    • Marian Fox

      I am a woman, btw.

    • ScottH

      The 23andMe Personal Genome Service does not directly provide paternal haplogroup information for women since it is traced through the Y chromosome, which women do not inherit. You still will get your ancestry composition but you won’t be able to see your paternal line. You probably won’t be able to determine what part of your ancestry came from your father side and which came from your mother’s side, although you may be able to deduce this using multiple sources of information. Because we do autosomal testing you will still get relative finder matches from all sides of your family, it will just be a little more difficult to determine which side of the family your matches come from. If you’d like to explore a little bit more on this topic I’d suggest going to our Genetics 101 page.

      • Marian Fox

        Ok, just as long as I’m seeing the whole or as much as can be determined.

        Thank you for your quick response.

  • lauren

    This is an odd article I found on google. I remember seeing something like this on the history channel. I think it was refuted.

    tests create a bombshell

    There are currently no DNA tests that can accurate label someone a descendant of a particular Indian tribe in eastern North America. The people, calling themselves full-blooded Native Americans, from the eastern United States, are not the same people, genetically, who greeted early European explorers. A few reputable laboratories are now attempting to create reliable DNA markers for individual tribes, but the obstacles are monumental.

    Perceiving a vast potential market from the millions of Americans, who proudly claim that their great-grandmother was a Cherokee Princess, DNA Consultants, Inc. initiated comprehensive DNA testing of the Cherokees living on the Qualla Reservation in western North Carolina. The North Carolina Cherokees were chosen because after 180 years in the west, Oklahoma Cherokees are so thoroughly mixed with other ethnic groups, that any DNA test marker obtained would be meaningless.

    The laboratory immediately stumbled into a scientific hornet’s nest. That Cherokee princess in someone’s genealogy was most likely a Jewish or North African princess. Its scientists have labeled the Cherokees not as Native Americans, but as a Middle Eastern-North African population. Cherokees have high levels of test markers associated with the Berbers, native Egyptians, Turks, Lebanese, Hebrews and Mesopotamians. Genetically, they are more Jewish than the typical American Jew of European ancestry. So-called “full-blooded” Cherokees have high levels of European DNA and a trace of Asiatic (Native American) DNA. Their skin color and facial features are primarily Semitic in origin, not Native American. Outraged Cherokees can read the reports at:

    There is a major inaccuracy in most articles about this controversy. Both DNA Consultants and journalists are stating that the research results from the Qualla Reservation apply to all Cherokees. Genetic research associated with the filming of the History Channel’s “America Unearthed” found separate populations of Cherokees outside the reservation with very different genetic profiles. In several counties, the “Cherokees” had profiles identical to Georgia Creeks, and often carried Maya DNA like the Georgia Creeks. In one county, the “Cherokees” were predominantly Quechua from South America, or else mixed Quechua, Maya and Creek. Many of the residents of the Snowbird Cherokee Reservation in Graham County, NC look like the Zoque of Mexico, who created the Olmec Civilization. They are called “Moon Faces” by the Cherokees on the main reservation.

    At present, the researchers at DNA Consultants seem unaware that throughout the 1600s Iberian Sephardic Jews and Moorish Conversos colonized the North Carolina and Georgia Mountains, where they mined and worked gold and silver. All European maps show western North Carolina occupied by Apalache, Creek, Shawnee and Yuchi Indians until 1718. Most of these indigenous tribal groups were forced out in the early 1700s. Anglo-American settlers moving into northeastern Tennessee and extreme southwestern Virginia mentioned seeing Jewish speaking villages in that region until around 1800.

    How the occupants of the North Carolina Mountains became a mixed Semitic, North African, European and Native American population, known as the Cherokees, remains a mystery. Slave raids may have been a factor. The 18th century Cherokees were the “biggest players” in the Native Americans slave trade. Perhaps young Sephardic females were captured by slave raiders to be concubines and wives.

    It is also known that around 1693, the British put together an alliance between eight small Native towns with Creek names in northwestern South Carolina and the powerful Rickohockens of southwestern Virginia to thwart the expansion of French colonies. The modern Cherokee language seems to be a mixture of Rickohocken, Shawnee and Creek. There is obviously much that anthropologists and historians do not know about the early history of the Southern Highlands.

    Those readers who wish to ask Richard Thornton questions about architecture, urban planning or Native American history may email him at Native .

    • Wednesday

      We need to be careful with interpreting these results. DNA Consultants as DNA tribes STR uses STR or CODIS which test at max 15 markers is used from the FBI database for forensics. While STR is good for YDNA genealogy is not very good for ethnic testing. STR has a large margin of error. 23andMe uses SNP’s and tests hundreds and thousands of alleles/markers. I am actually surprised STR is still being used.

      Also the people that were tested on the Qualla, the study you are referring, from what I know were not card carrying EBIC members so we have no way of knowing actual Cherokee DNA from people making claims of being a Cherokee. To test people who are not documented members of a tribe and making conclusions is sloppy at best.

      • kchan

        It is really important to understand what the DNA test is measuring and how it is being categorized.

    • kchan

      The Native Americans on the east coast were enslaved on plantations in colonial America along with African slaves and Portuguese Roma. They mixed and MTDNA takes hundreds of years to change. There are pictures of Cherokee Indians wearing Moorish clothing on the Internet. The Moores mixed all the way to Sicily in Europe and even the Iroquois are said to have mixed with them. South America is full of darker Moorish Indians that does not make them less Indian.

    • kchan

      I have been taking DNA tests for years and it takes a while to understand what each test is describing. After doing a siblingship test that proved that My brother and I were millions of times more likely to be full siblings, I did Ancestry by DNA. It showed that I had some Native American DNA. It is important to understand what these tests measure. This test is measuring Native American DNA from Federally recognized tribes south of the 49th parallel. Then I did DNA Tribes with the 21 marker test. This was really aggravating to me because my top countries would come out listed as Northern Spain, France, and Denmark etc. My Irish grandparents would be half way down the page listed as Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. This continued until I did the 27 marker test and one update. Once DNA Tribes had a population for the U. K. , it became my top country with a match likliehood of 6 million. When I did the 21 marker test, I got a mestizo score which includes the Canadian metis. It was not until I did the 27 Marker test that I got an Altaian score whose population includes Native American Markers A,B,C,D, and X. My Native American panel was empty and I got results on the extended results for Australian Aboriginal and even some Native American, Minesota, Mixed. If you do not have more than 1/8th DNA from a particular tribe in the database then the Native American DNA that you do have is assigned to another category, like mestizo or Altaian. The weird thing is that I have seen results for a Hispanic person that show lesser amounts and tribes, but not for North America because for North America where the computer has been programmed to exclude amounts less than 12.5 %. When I did the 21 marker test my third largest group was the Mediterranean. on the central Asian panel the top country was Greek Roma. This changed when I did the 27 marker test because DNA Tribes now had a population for Portuguese Roma. It is important to know what the test is not measuring. The Canadian Inuit are aboriginal but they were included. This probably includes tribes from Canada, if they are not in the database. So the Native American panel does not include most Delaware, or any other tribe that has lost status or any tribe that DNA Tribes does not have a population in there database.

      • kchan

        The Inuit were not being include on the Native American panel. It was only federally recognized tribes that DNA Tribes had in the database.

      • kchan

        I do not know how many Canadian tribes DNA Tribes has in the database, but at one point the Inuit were not included on the Native American panel.

    • kchan

      I just read the article on the Cherokee sited above. I have an article in a box in my basement about research on an Altaian village that was described as a proto-village for Native American haplogroups and it reorted the presence of Native American markers A,B,C,D and X in one individual. The person who wrote the article on the Cherokee was making generalizations.

    • kchan

      I checked again. DNA Tribes has a lot of tribes in the database, but by no means is it comprehensive. They have no Cherokee, Delaware, Stockbridge Munsee, or Iroquois like Oneida or Onondaga. They do have an Inuit population now : I do not know when they added it because the database is constantly changing. They have one tribe listed as Sioux and Chippewa, Minnesota. Unless the database has the exact tribe that you match in the database and you have the required blood quantum of 12.5% for that particular tribe, your Native American DNA will be assigned to the nearest category.

  • BJ

    Hi Scott,

    Can you please tell me what it means to have a ‘Countries of Ancestry’ match on the X? On the Countries of Ancestry page I have a Romanian match on the X (around 11cM). As I get an X from both my mother and my father, who’s X is this referring to?


    • BJ

      I forgot to ask about the other chromosomes on the Countries of Ancestry page. Are they are mix inherited from both mother and father? So matches I have of country of ancestry, is it then from both or just one side?


      • ScottH

        See my response to your previous comment. But yes the autosomes are inherited from both parents. Again the matches that you are seeing are for matches from other people in the database. These are individuals — with whom you may or may not be sharing — who have identified where their four grandparents were born. It helps tell you more about your ancestry. If you are sharing with your mother and father, you could look at their countries of origin and see whether the same segments of chromosomes are marked.

    • ScottH

      If you want to see where your Romanian ancestry comes from it may be better to go to Ancestry Composition and look at the Split View option, although I’m not sure whether your Romanian ancestry would display as Eastern Europe or not. The Countries of Ancestry tool in our Ancestry Tools looks more broadly than just your parents. Those matches on the X are from matches you had in Relative Finder. These are places where you share DNA with your Relative Finder matches who have identified that both their grandparents were born in a certain country, in your case Romania. So what does that mean if you get a match on the X at 11cM? If your match said that all four of their grandparents were born in Romanian then Ancestry Finder marks the segment with four green strips (one for each grandparent). That means that you likely have Romanian ancestry since all four of your matches have grandparents born in Romania.

      • BJ

        Thanks for your quick reply Scott. Firstly I need to start off by saying the following may be a stupid question. I’m a little confused because on the “Countries of Ancestry’ page, 22 Chromosomes are listed with one X. Are these pairs? Aren’t the X different?

        As a female, I retain one of my mother’s X chromosomes, and retain the second X chromosome from my father. Since my father retains his X chromosome from his mother, I have one X chromosome from my paternal grandmother and one X chromosome from my mother.

        So my question is, is this the X from my mother or the X from my fathers mothers side listed on this page? Or is it a mixture of both?


        • ScottH

          It could be from either parent. Again what this is showing is simply where you overlap with other individuals in the database who have identified the country of origin for all four of their grandparents. In my case when I look at my results I see an overlap on two segments on the X for people who have indicated that they are from the UK. That doesn’t tell me whether that UK ancestry comes from my mom or my dad.

  • DianeE

    The split view report showing which DNA you received from each parent would be wonderful, but requires both you and one parent to have sent in samples. Unfortunately, both of my parents are dead. Is it possible to do something similar with myself and my brother to determine which DNA we received from which parent?

  • Chris

    I just sent in my kit with my sample. I am hoping that my results will indicate my Paternal haplogroup?

    • ScottH

      Your paternal haplogroup is passed down from your father, via his father, and so on. Because it is inherited through the Y chromosome, only males will receive a paternal haplogroup assignment. If a male relative such as a father, brother, paternal uncle or paternal male cousin were to be genotyped then a woman would be able to infer her own paternal haplogroup information from his.

  • Don Oatman

    What are haplogroups?

    • ScottH

      Hi Don,
      The term Haplogroup is used by scientists to describe closely related groups of people in the human family tree. All members of these groups can trace their ancestry back to a single individual — back either your paternal or maternal line. So your maternal haplogroup traces back from your mother to your mother’s mother and so on back in time. Your father’s haplogroup traces back from your father, to your father’s father and so on. Here is a link to more information about haplogroups. We also have some short videos about guides about genetics here that might be of help.

  • Don Oatman

    Georgene Crolley first showed up as a niece instead of a sister. Was that because a half sister has the same genetic identity as a niece, uncle or first cousin?

  • Gerald Lopez

    This is realy cool! But this article was written in January and it says that African will be broken down (Detailed) soon… we are almost halfway through july and still no african sub-categories = (. This is really needed there are alot of us who are multiracial and this would lend us a great tool to figure out our ancestries.

    • ScottH

      Hello Gerald, There will soon — probably in the next month or so — be an update. This will indeed include additional African reference populations as well as a host of Asian populations and improve Ancestry Composition results. Stay tuned.

  • Lois

    As a 76 y o female born and adopted at 5 days old in Canada, with no knowledge of birth family, what can I find out from the tests (I sent the sample in today)? I have two male children (one who looks just like his father and the other of a completely different physical appearance) and two grandchildren. The most that I am hoping for is ethnic background tracing…..

    • ScottH

      Lois Thanks for ordering. For adoptees, who don’t have any family medical history or information about their biological family, 23andMe can offer a great insight into both health and ancestry information.

  • Michelle

    this is does explain what Standard, Speculative or Conservative break downs mean. Why are there three area’s and why are they so different?? I’m thoroughly confused. As far as British and Irish explanations..what is this? The British Isles consists of England, Scotland, Ireland and am I Welsh, Scottish, English or Welsh? This is too vague for me. Non of my family history back to the 1400 has been Irish or Scottish so I’m guess these are out for me.

  • Mary

    If I have no living father or mother or brother, but I have two sons, and they have their DNA tests done, will that give me any insight into my paternal ancestry?

    • ScottH

      Hi Mary, No having your sons tested will not tell you about your paternal line. It will tell them about their paternal line.

  • KennaA

    When you test and Native American DNA shows up, are you able to recognize DNA from each Tribe?

    • ScottH

      We can recognize Native American ancestry but we cannot identify individual tribes. Part of the reason is a lack of reference population data for Native American tribes.

  • home based business ideas

    I never make remarks, nonetheless I looked at quite a number of commentary here
    on Ancestry at 23andMe: New Insights for Sheridan | The 23andMe Blog and had a couple of basic questions for you if you do not
    mind. Could it possibly be just me or are a few of these posts seem to be as if they are just plain coming from brain dead visitors?

    Also, when you are article writing on other different web sites, I would like to keep up with you.
    Would you post a list of all of your current social media sites such as your linkedin information, Facebook url page or twitter

  • Harris Bockoven

    My sample is in transit. I am adopted, many people have asked if I am native American, so I found this site searching the internet and purchased a test as I know nothing other than I am adopted when I was old enough to understand the word. “IF” any native American is detected, will what type/tribe be identified? If not, how to I continue to find that information.

    • ScottH

      Hi Harris, Thank you for picking 23andMe. As an adoptee you can learn a lot from testing. You will learn about your ancestry, traits and health conditions. Some which you might already know, but perhaps many things that you don’t. While there have been a good number of people who have found close biological relatives, 23andMe is not a service designed to help people find their biological parents. But our DNA Relatives feature will find people within the database that share DNA with you.
      The number of relatives you will be matched to can vary. For example, people with European ancestry often have over 100 relatives. People with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, a group that is more related than average, may have more than 1,000 relatives. People with Asian ancestry will likely have fewer matches.
      As for your Native American ancestry, although we can tell you if you have Native American ancestry within the last few generations, it cannot identify the tribe. In some cases additional information we provide — your paternal or maternal haplogroups for instance or the people with whom you match in DNA Relative feature — can give you additional clues that help you identify more about your ancestry.

  • scottz

    I am really new to this. I have done to begin my search in hope of answering some questions. But it seems all I found is more questions. When I was approached to join 23andme I had no idea what I would find but I can say that I am a bit overwhelmed by the information and wish I had a tutor to help me understand this.
    Thanks to my cousin that invited me and thanks to 23andme for opening my eyes !


  • Rachel B

    My mother’s family is originally from Portugal but it’s been a family rumor that we might have Jewish ancestry. I know historically that Sephardic Jews lived in the Iberian region for some time, so I was wondering if Sephardic Jewish ancestry could be traced using dna testing?

    • ScottH

      There are no definitive ways to tell for certain if you have Jewish ancestry based on your DNA. However there are a few ways you can determine whether the possibility exists. 23andMe looks for evidence of Ashkenazi ancestry in your Ancestry Composition results. In the case of someone with Sephardic ancestry, we don’t have the same ability. However you can look at your haplogroup, the maternal and paternal line, and that can point you to possible Sephardic Jewish ancestry. However if you fall into one of the haplogroups known to be associated with Sephardic ancestry it is still possible that you are not Jewish.

  • Dina Flo Blazio

    Wow! What an exciting website!
    Too bad you have made it so difficult for people who are not good with computers.
    You should have two pathways to success for this website : One that is exciting and difficult to navigate for all of the youngsters out there who want a challenge and know all of the secrets to finding out where to go. You could also have a no nonsense system in Black and White like a good old fashioned list of how to do things and where to go to do them. Keep it simple! Lists are good.
    1) Order your saliva kit: (place link to saliva kit here)
    2) Take the survey: (place link to survey here)
    3) Introduction to how this service works: (place link to introduction here) Get the idea?!
    Like I said, keep it simple for the old folks…we don’t need all the bells and whistles!

    • ScottH

      Here’s a link to our “how it works” page. Here is a link to a more detailed “getting started page” that links you to all aspects of ordering a kit, giving a sample, getting your results, etc.
      We’ve also tried to periodically put up blog post about some of the things you can do with your data, that was the reason we’ve done the Sheridan series. We’re constantly trying to improve the customer experience, so thanks for the suggestions.

  • Dina Flo Blazio

    So what the hell does ” Your comment is awaiting moderation” mean anyway?! That makes no sense!
    Will I be censored if my comment is too critical?
    OK , I admit it …I’m a left wing moderate!

  • Lanta

    I have a large percentage unassigned, 7.1% in Standard View. Could this come from having a rare and under documented background: Sea Gypsy of the Andaman Sea? Or please tell me other reasons.
    Thank you!

    • ScottH

      Lanta, It’s not unusual to have a large unassigned percentage. It simply means that we cannot confidently assign that portion of your DNA.

      Ancestry Composition has the ability to assign pieces of your DNA at several geographic scales. This is important because DNA varies in where it’s found in the world. One piece of DNA might be found just in, say, Finnish people, so we can with some confidence call this DNA Finnish. Another piece of DNA might be found with some frequency in England, Norway and Germany. Instead of choosing arbitrarily from among these regions, Ancestry Composition will label DNA like that “Nonspecific Northern European.”

      If a piece of DNA is found all over Europe, like in Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Poland, but not outside Europe, Ancestry Composition will label that DNA “Nonspecific European.”

      Finally, when Ancestry Composition encounters DNA that is very widespread, like a piece of DNA that’s found in Europe, the Near East, and Asia, it will label that DNA “Unassigned.”

  • Irene H. Chesnutt

    Why is there a list of famous people given on the maternal or paternal haplogroup pages? Do I have snips of dna in common with those listed? Am I supposed to use this list in some way, other than to see where the haplogroup arises, or something like that. Thank you, Iren e H. Chesnutt

    • ScottH

      It’s a list of people with whom you share a common haplogroup. There are also individuals with whom you are sharing, and their haplogroups. And yes it’s meant to inform you a little bit about the origins of the haplogroup.

  • jana

    Is my father the best source for information to compliment mine or a brother?

    • ScottH

      Jana, Either would work well, but if you want to know more about your father’s side it would make sense to have him tested. Having your brother tested and comparing would tell you a little more about what you got from your parents versus what he got and you would also still get your paternal line. With your father you could tell in more detail what he got from his parents and that might help you go back farther in identifying what DNA was passed to you from your paternal grandfather and grandmother.

  • John Dwyer

    I have been a member of for years and last year, I got my DNA test done through their service. The report I got back indicated I was 47% British Isles, 27% Eastern European, 22% Central European, and 4% uncertain. I guess I was a little disappointed in that I thought there would be more information available.

    That said, I bought into the Ancestry test because I wanted to prove a relationship. I met my biological father when I was 15 but legally, he is not listed on my birth certificate. I thought I could get my birth certificate changed if I could prove my relationship. Thing is, my dad died 4 years ago…so I don’t have his DNA to use. I have 4 younger sibs by a different mother. My only brother agreed to provide a sample…but then said (and he is amazing) “On one condition: Regardless of what the test says…that we always remain brothers!” So, I got nervous and didn’t tell him I tested through Ancestry. Then, one night after a few drinks, I told my sister what I had done. And she decided to test. It’s not the same as the male line, but she is my half-sibling, so I thought I would see something. The Ancestry test indicates my sister is either my 1st or 2nd cousin. That is closer than any other relationship match through…and it kinda makes sense that we would be listed as cousins since we don’t exactly have the same DNA since we don’t have the same mom.

    So, my questions are:
    1) will this test offer a more accurate ethnic report than “British isles” and “Central Europe”?
    2) If I buy my brother a kit, because we share our father’s DNA, will any relationship report indicate that we are brothers?
    3) And this is more of a long-shot: Has anybody used your test to prove parentage? If so, has anybody had success at getting their birth records changed…and how? The only way I have found so far is to bring a court action against my dad’s estate and I just don’t want to do that to my family…so, would love any advice available.

    • ScottH

      I’ll do my best to answer your questions.
      1) Possibly, but that’s not guaranteed. We are conservative when report out ancestry results. It is possible that the results you get from us would also be general “British and Irish” or “Non-Specific Northern European.” That said we have a large and growing database that helps improve the specificity and accuracy of the results.
      2) Yes the relationship will be identified, but both you and your brother have to opt in to “show close relatives.”
      3) I don’t know the answer to your last question, but as far as I know no one has used our service in the context of a legally changing their birth records. We have had individuals use our service to find and or confirm siblings or even biological parents, but what you are asking is really a legal question.

  • Walter R Graham Jr

    I just watched a 40 minute YouTube video titled “You’ve Received Your AncestryDNA Results.
    Now what? .” It is extremely informative, but a lot of the material is specific to One really nice feature of is that on the list of matches to an individual each match has a link which will compare the two individuals’ family tree to see if there is a match there,also. Terrific feature!

    I wish the staff of 23andMe or someone would produce a similar video especially addressing the ancestry features of 23andMe. Any chance of that happening? Frankly, I’m disappointed with the lack of explanation about how relatives are matched. Apparently, multiple matching sequences trumps a higher % of DNA matching. Am I correct? A book recommended by several people TRACE YOUR ROOTS WITH DNA was written 10 years ago which is an eternity in terms of latest DNA testing and genetic genealogy. Perhaps, you can suggest a more up to date book?

    Thank you.

  • michael schultz

    I also am adopted, born 1964
    Recently spoke with bio but have no medical
    history of details about bio-dad

  • Ted McGill

    I understand that SNP CTS3655 may indicate Scottish ancestry. I have been trying to find in my family “proof” that the McGills were from Scotland before they came to the USA. They have deep Irish roots. Where can I check on this SNP in my results?


    • ScottH

      Ted, You can search your raw data by going to the right of the top Navigation bar. By your name there is a small arrow. This is a drop down menu. In that menu is “browse raw data.” You can click on that and search by gene or by SNP. That said I am not familiar with that SNP designation and I could not find a reference to it in the NIH dbSNP. It’s not in our data but there may be an equivalent RS number. There are probably other ways for you to figure out if you have Scottish ancestry beyond searching for one specific SNP.

      • Ted McGill

        Thanks, Scott!

  • Arlene Hohneker

    I love Sheridan’s story. Being adopted for the longest time I questioned my ancestry. My adoptive parents were European mostly German. I looked nothing like them. Being the non proactive deep types, when I asked what my nationalities were my dad answered English, Irish and Scandinavian. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t see many oliveish brown hair brown eyed Scandinavians in fact in the state of New Jersey I was entitled to get non identifying information and found out I was English and Irish but also Armenian! Before I found this out I was fascinated how Turkish people thought I was Turkish, Greeks thought I was Greek, and Iranian/Persians thought I was from Iran when Armenia is in that area of the world. Big difference between Armenia and Scandinavia dad. Armenia..gorgeous carpets, keshkeg, bulghur wheat, and Simit cookies, dried fruits and nuts very unique costumes and customs..first nation to embrace Christianity. Scandinavia – lox, elderberry wine, pancakes, smorgasbords, jellies of all sorts rich in mythology and folklore Odin, Frigga, Freya, Thor and the rest of the Norse pantheon, Runes, beautiful knotwork and Poetic Eddas which inspired Wagner to create some amazing operatic work. Armenia near the area where Noah’s Ark landed, crossroads of some of the most influential civilizations Greek, Persian. Scandinavia known for amazing interior designs. Armenia known for business prowess. I met my birthmother through finding an adoption support group that happened to have a detective that does search and reunions. I can definitely say for certain that dimples are passed down from mother to daughter. Skin problems definitely father to child. Respiratory problems and sinus problems mother’s side. Since I never found my birthfather there are a lot of mysteries I would love to get cleared up. The main I Mohawk? My birthmother told me he has native american ancestry. I would like to see how the Mohawk nation ended up in Bucks County PA. Mohawk mainly upstate NY and western Connecticut. Also on my birthmother’s side there was a family myth that her side of the family was Cherokee (Cherokee is so generic everyone seems to claim they are but unless you grew up in those states that had Cherokee reservations it is hard to prove. I took a DNA test through a company based out of Canada and the results couldn’t prove native american ancestry showed mainly European migratory routes one based out of Iberia and the other eastern Europe up through Bulgaria and straight up into Latvia, and some Scandinavia countries they use terms like you have Haplogroup traits in common with the the Samis of Scandinavia for example. I have heard about 23 and Me based upon that TV show that featured the professor from Harvard and he had Kevin Bacon and Kevin’s wife Kyra Sedwick but it was the ancestry part not the genetics. That episode was interesting Kevin was descended from Quakers abolitionists and Kyra’s family were slaveholders.

  • Don Peterson

    Sharing genome information – how do I find what my genome is in order to share with other people?

  • Elizabeth Ross

    I want to know about the Native American ancestry that I was told we have on both sides of my parents families. Is it even true. Also, why have I had so many different things and seem to beat them, do I have survivor genes?

  • Scott23H

    Nice to hear about your resiliency. I don’t think we have a report on that, but you bring up a good point. Often people think of our test telling them about what they might be at risk for, but your genetics also can confer on you resistance to certain diseases, lower risk for diseases like Alzheimer’s and other conditions.
    As for your question about Native American ancestry, 23andMe has several features that can reveal genetic evidence of Native American ancestry. But our test is not a confirmatory test or proof of such ancestry in a legal context.

    Also you should note that sometimes, even if a person’s great, great grandmother, for instance, was considered to be Native American, the DNA does not reveal the Native American ancestry because evidence is lost each generation. In general, however, Native American ancestry within the last few generations is likely to reveal itself through our features.

    • Rekka Riley

      ^This. Basically, the process by which genetic inheritance happens (chromosomes splitting and then randomly combining to form a single string of 23 chromosomes to pass down via egg/sperm cell) is inherently random, and the actual number of unique genetic markers is actually pretty small (at least compared to how many genes there are overall). So each and every single time a given pair of people reproduce, there’s a chance that the one or two genetic markers for one partner’s ancestry might not get passed down to that particular child. That’s why it helps if you can convince other relatives to participate in stuff like this; you might have missed out on a particular genetic marker, but one of your parents or siblings might have still gotten it.

  • 4steve

    When can I expect something other than the Mendel Family, I am thinking of changing my to Mendel, ;-)

    • Scott23H

      When your results are ready you should get an email letting you know. That will get loaded into the system and you’ll start getting DNA relative matches soon thereafter.

      • 4steve

        OK thank you

      • 4steve

        Thank you Scott

  • commurp

    I am disappointed in how slow my results have been. I thought that it would have been a little faster for results.

    • Scott23H

      Hi, Our apologies for not getting you your results faster. Right now we’re completing processing within six to eight weeks of your sample being received by the lab. I’m not sure where you fall in that, but if you are outside of that time frame please contact our customer care team and we can address that ASAP. Go here:

  • Yadira2415

    Is it posible I to learn more about my ancestry? I mean I got my report, but I see 59.2% is non specific (50.9% is non specific European) and 16.7 Non assigned. So there is 75.2% I really would like to learn more, because so far only 24.8% has been more useful. Thanks

    • richard

      Yadira, are you hispanic?

    • Eric

      There is a whole 62% of me that is not assigned…

    • Rekka Riley

      From what I understand of how genetics works, a lot of the problem could simply be that there haven’t been enough people from certain regions who have participated in these sort of studies, so the geneticists just don’t have enough information to make any meaningful comparisons. For example, they might be able to tell someone has Native American ancestry, but they might not be able to pinpoint exactly what area of North America those ancestors came from because they don’t have enough samples from confirmed regions to compare to.

      Could also be that some areas had much more heavy mixing than others, so the “uncertain” bit could be from there and there just isn’t currently a way to pinpoint which area that was and how everything got all mixed up.

      • Scott23H

        You are correct, particularly when we look at Native Americans. There are many tribes in the North America for which there are no or very few reference samples.

  • larry

    I have results that tell me I’m 28% british and Irish and .9% african, HC1 is this all that I will recieve.

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