Have you ever watched, “Who Do You Think You Are” on television? I’m always fascinated by how far back it’s possible to trace your family roots. Sadly, as neither my mother nor my father are still alive, it’s not been practicable to find out very much about my family’s ancestry. So when I saw that Living DNA * were looking for reviewers, I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to explore further.
Living DNA, as you might have guessed, are a DNA testing company that provide 3-in-1 detailed views of your ancestry. (And they’re local to me too as they’re based in Frome):
- Your family ancestry stretching back 10 generations with an in-depth breakdown of the countries and regions (80 regions worldwide including 21 in the UK)
- Your maternal ancestry (also known as the motherline) and paternal ancestry for males (also known as the fatherline) going back around 200,000 years
- Your ancestors’ migration paths going right back to when the first humans migrated out of Africa.
You get a kit through the post and after which you need to create and activate an online account. Then you take a DNA sample using a mouth swab and post it back in the provided pre-paid envelope. Your results are added to your online profile approximately 8-10 weeks afterwards. (Although I must confess, I had to take the test again as my first swab didn’t collect enough DNA). The test costs £89 for a lifetime account and, as more research is conducted, more information would become available to you. You can also share your interactive online results with friends and family. And even order a personalised coffee table book showing the journey of your ancestry.
Living DNA – Family Ancestry
Your DNA is passed down from all your ancestors. Your combination of ancestors is unique to you and makes up your personal genetic code. Interestingly, what you call your ancestry depends upon what point of time you refer to. For example, 200,000 years ago, the majority of most modern humans were living in Africa.
As far as I’m aware, I’m British, but with a tiny bit of Eastern European from my mother’s side. Her father’s mother was apparently an alcoholic Romany gipsy. A fact that my cranky grandmother would frequently bemoan to my long-suffering grandfather as they grew older. But I didn’t know if this was the actual truth, or just an insult (!)
According to the Family Ancestry Map, it looks as if my grandmother was telling the truth. A fact further confirmed by the Family Ancestry Visualisation, with its avatar.
For the Family Ancestry Chart, I decided to delve a little deeper into my Great Britain and Ireland make up. It turns out my family is predominantly from Central Southern England and East Anglia.
Living DNA – Motherline
Your motherline is your direct maternal heritage, passed down through mother to child through the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Males receive mtDNA but can’t pass it on though.
My results showed I belong to the mtDNA Haplogroup H, one of the most common groups in Europe and found in most European countries. Haplogroups can be associated with geographic regions, and are also used to trace the ancient migrations of early humans – as during the Ice Age, for example, like this Coverage Map shows.
The Migration Map shows the journey that my ancient ancestors could have taken as they spread out and moved across the globe. And it allows me to see how I fit in to the human family tree. Each colour change in the lines represents a change in that mtDNA, giving rise to a new Maternal Haplogroup.
And lastly, we have my personal Phylogenetic Tree, which shows my position within the mtDNA evolutionary tree of life. At the top of the tree is the root group that every living person today can trace their ancestry to. Further down the tree, different people take different branches and at the very last level is my subtype, the signature specific to me.
Unfortunately, unlike Matthew Pinsent and Danny Dyer, I’m neither descended from Jesus, nor from royalty. But I’ve loved finding out a little more about my mother’s side of the family. And although my results didn’t throw up any major surprises, I’m very pleased to discover I’m almost certainly a tiny bit Romany gipsy. Big thank you to Living DNA for giving me the opportunity to find out a little more about who I am, it’s been a quite fascinating journey.
What do you think about ancestry investigations? Would you like to find out more about who you are and where you come from too?
* I was gifted this kit in exchange for a review but all opinions are my own and this is an honest, unbiased review.