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DNA Origins

Ancestral Ethnicity

A DNA Origins test determines an individual's bio-geographic ancestry. Whether you're interested in researching your family history, or just simply want to learn more about yourself, this test can provide you with a better understanding of your genetic ancestry and provide a window into further research about your possible ancestors.

DNA Origins provides ancestral estimates for four populations: European, Indigenous American, Sub-Saharan African, and East Asian. It is important to remember that these "populations" really refer to a group of people with shared ancestry and that there is natural migration between these groups over time.

You may find that some of your ancestral proportions may not be what you expected. Interpreting your results in the context of your physical appearance is also discussed towards the end of this page.


Test Overview

This test gives an estimated percentage of ancestry from four population groups:

  • Indigenous American: Population group who migrated to inhabit North, South and Central America
  • European: Includes Europeans, Middle Easterners and South Asians
  • East Asian: Includes the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans and Pacific Islanders
  • Sub-Saharan African: Population group of people with roots in the Sub-Saharan region of Africa

NOTE: This test does not predict or establish a person's race*; it only gives an estimate of genetic ancestry or heritage, for example:

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What You Receive

When you purchase DNA Origins test, you will receive the following:

  • DNA Sample Collection Kit: An easy-to-use DNA sample collection kit containing cheek swabs and complete instructions
  • Personalized Certificate PDF: Ancestry Test Certificate listing your ancestral ethnicity percentages
  • Results Manual PDF: A detailed manual that explains your results, as well as provides more information about ancestry testing and human migration history
About Results

More Information About DNA Origins

Biogeographical Ancestry

In contrast to "defining your racial background," the DNA Origins test provides a statistical estimate of a person’s BioGeographical Ancestry (BGA). BGA is a means of expressing the proportional ancestry of a person that is independent of the various socially determined “races.” While race is often defined by social or political conventions (there is no biological definition of “race”), biogeographical ancestry describes populations that share similar DNA markers because of a shared ancestry, which may span a range of geographical locations.

Case in Point: Defining the European Population

As mentioned, the terms for the founding populations used in the test report are used broadly, in part for brevity and practicality. For example, our use of “European” population denotes people of shared “proto-European” ancestry, which includes not only populations residing in the European continent, but also the Middle East and South Asia. Our definition of this founding population is based on evolutionary and anthropologic studies which show that these peoples’ common ancestor arose from anatomically modern humans who travelled out of Africa about 50,000 years ago to colonize the Fertile Crescent area of the Middle East—what today encompasses the countries of Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq, and including the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Thus, people residing in Europe, Middle East, and South Asia (India) share common ancestral markers dating 10,000 to 50,000 years ago. In testing various world populations, for example, South Asian Indians are found to have a substantial, but lower, level of "European" markers while Middle Easterners exhibit a higher level of "European" markers. In the DNA Origins test, the average South Asian Indian exhibits 58% European ancestry, while Middle Easterners have about 80-90% European ancestry.

Percentages and Physical Appearance

Individuals exhibiting physical characteristics of a population group generally have at least 30-35% identity with that group. For example, persons with an 85% European and 15% Sub-Saharan generally exhibit few, if any, physical features characteristic of the Sub-Saharan group, such as darker skin.

This is because the genes that determine physical appearance are a very small percentage of the total number of genes in the genome. Thus, for all of these genes to have sequences characteristic of one group, the person would need to be of relatively high proportions for that group. The higher the percentage of Sub-Saharan a person is, the more likely the areas of the genome that determines physical appearance will be of Sub-Saharan origin.