MyHeritage DNA – THE LEAST EXCITING DISCOVERY OF 2017

It was my anniversary present — from me to we.

Garry and I don’t need much, at least not much I can afford. The big things are out of our price range — new toilets or a chair lift anyone? Otherwise, we have as many little things as any couple our age could possibly need … or want … or have room to keep. But then, I saw all these DNA thingies and I thought “Well, that would be different.”

So we sent them our DNA and discovered … nothing much. Not a surprise in the package.

I am Jewish. Really. From top of head to tip of toes. Garry is a bunch of European plus a goodly chunk of Africa.

I am almost entirely Ashkenazi with a wee bit of Sephardi and a hint of Baltic — probably the guy no one talks about. I had been hoping for something more entertaining and certainly more information. Some minimal analysis would have been a nice touch. What we got were numbers and a map. No analysis. Not even a summary paragraph. Nor reference material or links or anything to work with.

Garry was more entertaining than me, but nothing shocking. We knew about the Irish grandparents … and we figured there were more Europeans, too. Thus to no one’s surprise, Garry’s DNA is a broad brush across Europe and Africa.

Garry even has a 1.7% Ashkenazi Jewish in there (maybe we’re related?) … and a 2.1% Middle Eastern component. I, on the other hand, am Jewish. Except for that tiny bit of Baltic. So where does my weird B+ blood type come from?

I am disappointed. The results are so skimpy. Within the limits of what they did, I suppose they are accurate — but it doesn’t feel like they did anything. Apparently if you want real information, they want more money. A lot more money. But the thing is, if this is all the information they retrieve from the DNA, they aren’t going to give us deeper information no matter how much money you give them. All they will do is run your family tree information against other family trees and look for matches. If that’s what you want, join Ancestry.com. You’ll probably get more information there than here.

They offer links to “relatives” here, but if you want to get in touch with them — well that costs more. Of course.  There were more links for me than for Garry, but that’s because Ashkenazi Jews are closely related and have been studied rather more than most groups. Otherwise, the information MyHeritageDNA gets seems more dependent on how much data you give them than anything they retrieve from your DNA. If you tell them a lot about your family, they can scan other family trees for related information — but it’s not based on your DNA. The complete absence of any analysis — literally no analysis — made it feel like I was just getting back information I already knew. Shallow doesn’t begin to describe it.

This wasn’t supposed to be an expensive visit to Ancestry.com. This was supposed to be a DNA analysis. Now, we know we are exactly who we thought we were. Wow.

MyHeritageDNA doesn’t dig for information. If what you are looking for is something that will agree with what you know, this might be just what you need. If you are looking for a deeper or broader understanding of your ancestral history … well … this ain’t it. 23andMe gets better reviews for about the same price. Ancestry.com gets reviews just like this one, but provides nominally more analysis of results — but at a price.

Of course, any analysis would be more than I got. Also, there a very new one called Insitome DNA Test Kit: Neanderthal Genetic Traits Profile (Ancestry) powered by Helix which sounds really interesting. It’s slightly more expensive (not much), but apparently provides a lot more information.

Meanwhile, it’s official. We are us. Will the thrill never end?

33 thoughts on “MyHeritage DNA – THE LEAST EXCITING DISCOVERY OF 2017

  1. Well at least you now know the whole truth. I was a member of Ancestry.com for a couple of years, and found the ancestors back to the 18th century. I got quite a few birth certificates and a marriage certificate in French, from my Hugeunot ggg grandparents, but eventually you have found enough. My paternal great grand father was the end of his line, as no-one bothered to register his birth, so I don’t know who his parents were. My DNA will probably only be examined if I commit a crime.

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  2. When DNA test first became available through National Geographic, I bought some for my parents. There was a little more analysis than this, a few pages worth, but there were no blobs on the maps, just arrows pointing to most probable paths out of Africa tens of thousands of years ago. They didn’t get a hard copy, everything was online, and they were told that the profiles would be updated as new information came in. That was many years ago. I wonder if those webpages are still there and have been updated?

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  3. I used 23 And Me and I’m relatively satisfied with the results. I like them more because they continue to ‘work’ on my profile…finding relations under bushes that I never knew I had…they do a DNA match and show you the percentage (thereby the degree) of relatedness. .1% isn’t much really, maybe a sixteenth cousin twice removed? The only surprise I really got was somehow some Nordic (Scandinavian) blood is in my pool. That one I didn’t see coming, because being LDS, I knew a fair bit about my ancestors in the first place and lots of tales of Scots, Welsh and English ties have been shared. I suppose there was a Viking raid one night or something…

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    • I have heard that 23AndMe is not bad. This one WAS bad. They never promised any analysis, though I had assumed there would be at least a page of information. Getting nothing seriously pissed me off. I’m not sure I feel like blowing anymore money on this, especially since Garry isn’t all that interested and I suspect I’m just going to find out what I already know: I’m Jewish. Both sides. As far as anyone can tell. Were my Neanderthal ancestors ALSO Jewish? I mean, I know we have a long history … but … you know … before fire?

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  4. I did two DNA tests and got complementary information. One was a test to determine my mitochondrial DNA. My Maternal Haplogroup is K2a which is a close relation to the haplogroup of most Ashkenazi jews (K2b). Anyway, as you are an Ashkenazi Jew, this article might interest you: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1380291/

    My mother also had B+ blood

    This test also said I am 18% Native American.

    I also did the Ancestry test and learned nothing that I didn’t already know except that I am mostly Scandinavian, not mostly Irish. It explains the 18% Native American by a cross over I researched showing that Sami People often have “Native American” DNA.

    Ultimately, except for my having the same Haplogroup as Oetzi, the Ice Man, it was a pretty meaningless exercise for me, too. It’s like I used to tell my students, “some questions are more interesting than the answers.”

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    • That’s a very good way to put it. Wondering was much more entertaining than answers. Garry knows what he already knew, that he is a bit of everything except Chinese or Native American. I’m so ridiculously Jewish, it’s almost depressing. I thought there might be something in there that would make me say “Oh wow” or at least be interesting enough to do further research. And since this things didn’t give me any backup information, it made is really … dull. Oh well. It was a nice thought.

      But you’re right. The question was more interesting than the answer … by a lot.

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        • Garry is utterly disinterested. He has never been especially curious about his personal history. I wanted to know about distant roots. I certainly am not interested in finding out if I come from a rabbinic family. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’m happier NOT finding that out. I do not need to know that. Creepy.

          This was all just curiosity for me. I was looking for something interesting and not getting at least something interesting pisses me off. You can annoy me, argue with me, whatever — just don’t bore me.

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    • If you aren’t hunting for “spare family,” this kind of DNA testing is a waste of money. If you are looking for your Neanderthal roots, there are other kits that probably at least give you some actual information. THIS one was a loser.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Now THAT would have been terrific! I’m told that non-human DNA is very exciting for everyone, whether it’s other-worldly or some strange beastie that somehow crept into your background. Squirrel would be good. Wolf would be nice, too.

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  5. Thanks for the heads-up and the update on your results. It seems that searching our ancestries through DNA is the in-thing to do these days. I’ve been thinking about it…but now, I’ll be satisfied with what I already know. I’m half Swedish from Mom’s side and a regular old mut from Dad’s half (multi-European + a bit of Native American). All told, I too, probably already know more than the DNA maps can tell me… It’s amazing though that you and Garry share a Jewish branch. 🙂 xo

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    • Garry is a true “mutt” insofar as he has a broad sweep of European and African ancestors. He is totally disinterested in the whole thing, too. I was just curious, but I hoped there’d be something in it that was at least intriguing. Nope. My cousin and her husband did one too. She discovered that she too is Jewish … and related to me (wow, who’d have guessed?) and her husband is Chinese. Another case of discovering that the question was more interesting than the answer 🙂

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  6. I did the Ancestry.com test. They provided some commentary and match me with potential cousins, which has been interesting.
    Of course, I signed away the rights to my own DNA. Gotta love those muli page agreements.
    A friend did a DNA test and was disappointed to find that 99% of her DNA was from one village in Poland, and she already knew that was where her family came from.

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  7. I’ve been hesitant to do it, thinking like you did and apparently still do that nothing shockingly new will appear. But you are still far more interesting than fully blooded European me. I doubt there is anything cool to find there.
    Maybe I’ll do it and then I’ll let you know!
    In any case, you are you and perfect as you are. And Garry too, of course.

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  8. Marilyn, the Eurogenes suite of ethnicity admixture tools at GEDMatch is what you need to get deeper looks into your Jewish ancestry’s constituent parts. For example, “Eurogenes K36” includes your personal percentages for the following categories that European Jews typically carry: East Mediterranean (Israel/Levant region), Near Eastern (northern Middle East), Arabian, Armenian, North African (Berber tribes), French, Italian, East Balkan, Iberian, Central European, East-Central European (Slavic people), East European, Volga-Ural, Fennoscandian (Finnish-related), North Sea, North Atlantic, and some others found less often in European Jews including South Central Asian, East Asian, Siberian, and Amerindian-affinity (not actual ancestors from the Americas in this case). Best of all, GEDMatch is free to join, and works with your existing MyHeritageDNA data. I have a detailed discussion of the source populations of these elements that make up European Jews, and the Sephardic-Ashkenazic connection that showed in your MyHeritageDNA estimate, coming in chapter 10 of the 3rd edition of my book “The Jews of Khazaria” that will be published next February.

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    • As far as I can tell, there’s no way to enter the material from the site I used. Not according to the instructions I just read online. I’ll go check it out again in the morning. It’s late and I’m too tired for research right now.

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      • I have seen MyHeritage DNA testers who successfully uploaded their data to GEDmatch with the prefix “H”. First, they had to download the data file from inside their MyHeritage accounts. Hopefully you can get it to work when you have time because it will take away the feeling of boredom. There are many thousands of Ashkenazic participants in GEDmatch and variations between them are evident using the Eurogenes tools even when their companies correctly identified that they are mostly or entirely Ashkenazic in their recent generations. People with the prefix “A” tested with AncestryDNA, “M” with 23andMe, and “T” with Family Tree DNA.

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    • I entered my material into GEDmatch and ponied up for the tier one stuff. It’s a genuine research organization and I don’t mind helping them do their research. It’s hard to get research money. Until today, it was complete gibberish. NO idea what they were talking about — until I ran a series and suddenly, I saw the pie chart … and it made sense. Bing!

      There’s still a lot I don’t know and probably will never know, but I finally got a look at what an Askenazi background really looks like … and discovered a few relatives … second cousins — or my grandmother’s sibling’s grandchildren. Which is when I realized my mother and father paid absolutely NO attention to the extended parts of the family. I’m sure I had cousins and all that, but we had no contact with them.

      It’s going to take a good deal more research to make real sense of this, but I understand a lot more today than I did yesterday. Thank you!

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