The Perils Of Admixture – there is more to DNA than a pie chart

How did admixture take over DNA testing? We have turned away from honoring our mothers and our fathers mt-DNA and y-DNA, there are people walking around, that do not know their haplogroup(s)! Disaster!

pink helix

My double helix. Mine in the sense that I drew this one.

There is a saying about some places – ‘if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change.’ Admixture results are somewhat like the weather – they can and do change.

The first commercial tests for DNA were only the absolutes – well, sort of absolute.

This is a comparison of one person’s results at 8 companies

In the beginning… there was mt-DNA which gives little genealogy (most of the time – but – there are times when it does…) but mt-DNA keeps on giving and giving for maternal line history and with the basic test one gets their presumed mt-DNA haplogroup; and there was y-DNA, male only, paternal line history, which gives genealogy and ancestral history both and haplogroup guesstimate. Later autosomal DNA au-DNA or at-DNA testing was added (it is with autosomal testing that one gets, as an added result, their admixture). I still wish the admixture result had never come into it for a 1,000 reasons – we all need to do our haplogroups first. Period!

If I were only allowed one of the three of the tests, it would be mt-DNA – I just have to have my mt-DNA haplogroup and my haplogroup (like all haplogroups and all people’s grandchildren) is the most wonderful and magnificent haplogroup in all the world. If I were a male and only had one test allowed it would have to be the male y-DNA as the only choice.


Me, myself and I

If I personally would be allowed two of the three tests then the decision would still be a struggle, can I do without my dad’s y-DNA haplogroup? The Knight McKnight I-Y5673 Haplogroup? The Pennsylvania to the French Broad River Knight McKnights haplogroup? No way. And if I were a male and only had a choice of two of the three tests, then y-DNA and mt-DNA, hands down, and no autosomal – meaning no admixture and no cousins.

01a Copy of cherie known dna haplogroups

These are my ancestors and the haplogroups I know about them – so far. An exact way to prove which family a male line descends from and anyone can work to learn all their ancestral lines genetic signature by using au-DNA and family line males using y-DNA to test their paternal line.

Using autosomal DNA to prove two people are genetic cousins, any person can infer what their ancestor’s haplogroup might have been. I believe many men might get caught up only in their own male haplogroup – but as a girl to have fun with y-dna I need to match au-DNA with any male cousin, and then having him test his y-dna. The au-DNA will prove that the person and i are related and the amount of shared genes will confirm most relationships. So, this is also the ultimate way to prove who is related to which ancestral family of a particular surname using y-DNA.

cherie fan chart dna best names


This fan ancestry chart shows what the three main DNA tests give a person, the center circle is the self, the first arc are that person’s parents, the next arc is a person’s grandparents, and so on. The au-DNA are little snippets and little pieces of this ancestor and that ancestor, and is read from our autosomes. The yellow shows that these genes are from the entire ancestry of a person both mother’s side and father’s side – it is just random and varied – who and how much from those, but decreases every generation back to quickly fade – like a vanishing point.

The blue line of ancestors is the singular line tested in the y-DNA – only carried by males and is their father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father’s all the way back in time and the genetic signature found that a man carries in his y-dna will be his assigned haplogroup (see haplotype and haplogroup note blog) and this genetic history gives every male an indication of their paternal migration for 100s of 1,000s of years.

The red line shows the person’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s  etc etc and on for 100s of 1,000s of years and both men and women can test their mt-DNA. Some say less genealogy than other tests but this will also give both men and women their assigned mt-DNA haplogroup and you can learn some about the migration of your maternal line ancestry for ages and ages.


Oh dear, and bless all our hearts, so do no autosomal test? Can’t be. There is no way I could do without my cousins either, and my special cousins at that, so of course must have it all and that is why this is an expensive hobby adding records and time for research – genealogy is magic but Nicholas Tesla died and we even have to pay for the power.

Thanks to online genealogy I met for the amazing additions to my life a 2nd cousin 1x, and later a 1st cousin, both previously unknown and they led to amazing cousins I never knew and have filled my life with so much wonderful family. Later DNA testing also shows we all are cousins, but from the beginning the internet provided the locating of family and then cemented the bond – AOL’s, You’ve Got Mail, and with’s message boards (now owned by gave genealogy its best boost since the Good Book recorded that Lamech begat Noah. Then came DNA and disproved half of it, but then DNA found the missing truths and confirmed the rest with multiple centiMorgans of genes on several chromosomes – and with x-genes to boot. Another bells and whistles feature added with autosomal results.

I first heard, where it sunk in, about autosomal DNA testing and admixture from one of Professor Henry Louis Gates’ early shows, the one where he had himself or maybe each of his parents tested at the (I think the school was) U of Pennsylvania, genetics lab. At that time the school person said he thought of admixture testing, that many white identity Americans, with long colonial lines, would have mixed ethnic DNA themselves.  But admixture tests were seriously new at that time, and they are not old with the kinks out yet, so even when Family Tree DNA offered the test, I waited. Although, quickly, several other companies began to offer autosomal testing I still waited, I wanted my peoples mts and ys first.

We first tested mt-DNA, and my husband tested both mt-DNA and his y-DNA, after we had two two initial introductions to DNA for genealogy – We followed Dr Spencer Wells shows ‘The Journey Of Man’ from the moment advertised on PBS, just like Gates’. So when my cousin Buddy (the coolest cousin on the face of the earth that anybody could ever have), mentioned Family Tree DNA, his y-DNA and the Lewis Surname y-DNA Project, my husband and I jumped in with both feet for ourselves and now have done almost everything with almost everybody. (The Lewis Surname y-DNA project [among other discoveries] proved that we are not descended from that Native American murdering, gold digger, John Lewis of Warner Hall, living off his wife’s money and family history prestige. But although y-DNA has proved the two families are not related, name collecting, wannabes still have the wrong Lewis ancestors attached to my and their people, but that is another story, google it, there are almost 20 years of raging arguments online about who was the John Lewis father of David Lewis of Hanover who held the 1st land patent west of the Rivanna River – so he also had to have displaced Native Americans and he certainly had slaves – so plenty of guilt to go around for everybody)

From 2005 we were reading y-DNA STRs (short tandem repeats) and SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) and soaking up info about haplogroups like our lives depended on it. And we have seen the information change.

One of the most striking changes has been assigning haplogroup to groups of people, certainly no absolute info even now, we have to throw religions and countries and race out with the baby and the bath water. The not absolute assignment issue is seen with our y-DNA Haplogroup G2as and how did they get to Wales?

There were so few of the G2as in Wales and all the UK for that matter it was decided they must have come in late and so must have come in with the Romans. The Roman army was understood to have folks from all over and since there did appear to be a large cluster of G2a males around the countries of Chechnya and Georgia, and the great warriors the Sarmatians were from around Chechnya and Georia parts, then it was decided the Roman army must have had a contingent of Sarmatians (not Alans, the Alans had already partly been claimed by the y-DNA Haplogroup Rs, hard to say if R1b or R1a called them first), so the G2as, according to this early theory, came into the UK in the Roman conquest. – Phooey.

More about G2as in the notes about y-dna, but suffice it to say, the G haplogroup is now thought to be one of the oldest in Europe and the British Isles and likely spread across Europe with the early farmers even 10,000 ybp; there is also a large cluster of G2as in Turkey, and so this blue-eyed Welshman I married is more exotic, genetically, than one might first perceive (exotic as in, not the standard WAM – Western Atlantic Model Type – not that there is anything wrong with R1bs – I love all my R1bs and I would have been kissing cousins with all my R1b cousins and for that mattered I married an R1b and had two R1b offspring, it is just there are so many of them – maybe as many as 40% of males in Western Europe are R1b Haplogroup – [and you tell me you do not know your own haplogroup?]).

Whether Sarmatian warriors with the Roman Army are the ancestors – but they were not – or the ancestors were the early farmers from the Russian Steppes, we still have their earlier origins seen by finding clusters of y-DNA group, found farther East, and by finding clusters of this (or any) haplogroup in any place we can learn where people lived and their migration routes. So from the East or Central Asia we can follow our G2as as they went North, and then the longest trek west. From their artifacts we see their lives come to life.

fix link to Museum replica of stag in gold

So the y-DNA stories, and my absolute faith in them from the start, resulted in my getting gifts for the holidays for my Haplogroup G2a hubby, Dai, with a DNA flavor – Sarmatian coins, a replica of an ornament of an antlered cervidae, moose, deer, elk, sold by one of the museums as a souvenir. I thought it interesting to read that Moose are more solitary, and the other deer groups usually live in herds, but Moose live on their own. This made me wonder about how people selected which animals to worship as G-ds. If anyone knows of anyone wanting to buy a couple of nice Sarmatian coins, let me know; I like the antlered G-d icon, it might come in handy to cover all the bases for salvation.


stag LOC Ances of CPHMI_3g08000-0700

Stag Looking For Its Mate, 1810 – 1820, Japan, illustration, woodcut, Kōrin hyakuzu. Kyōto: Hosokawa Kaiekidō, “The Floating world of Ukiyo-e: shadows, dreams and substances,” organized by the Library of Congress, 2001. AncestryDOTcom

But generally y-DNA and mt-DNA are absolutes and the first time I heard about admixture, I thought, I will wait for them to get the kinks out – well they are still not out.

Bottom line, for the autosomal DNA, I might say, adding the admixture results with the chromosomal matching test results was a terrible thing. I know many people only buy the DNA test to get their admixture – their pie chart – graph, map – percentages and never look at anything else.

Admixture might not vary much from company to company and database to database and it certainly picks up large swaths of ethnic etc identity like and – most important – some trace amounts of hints at who we are, but it also only sees a few snippets of a few people for just a few generations and too many people are too disappointed in what they do have – or what they do not have and the test and result is more a process and not an event. Testing siblings a person can possibly see snippets of more or other ancestors sometimes because we inherit genes randomly from some ancestors.

I am not saying I don’t love my admixture results – I love everyone of them – you could not pry my results out of my hands – not any of them, no matter how different they are – and the differences are partly because they are designed differently. So I want my admixture like everybody else, and the variables cannot change my DNA belief systems for all the tea in China, or all the Siberian SNPs on chromosome 6, but there remains a limit as to how much stock we should place in the results.

The autosomal DNA test also gives participants matching as a test result which is more exact, is magnificent, and we see our parents, siblings, children and cousins all identified by how many genes and where.

The issue with both results for the autosomes is thinking of these results as ‘too exact’ and trying to see relationships too far back in time – this test result is recent genealogy. The mt-DNA and the y-DNA can help you to know family for many generations into the past and haplogroups for 1,000s of years – but the au-DNA, or some write it at-DNA, is recent information –

I am 100% of myself. But for the au-DNA genes I got from my parents, it is – 50/50 but for the ancestors we read/see in a person’s results it might be thought of more as 65/35 from each side of ancestry or maybe 58/42.

Our Grandparents are 25% of us on the tree but the specific genes we see in our autosomes might be varied in how much of one grandparent we got, and how little of another grandparent each of us didn’t get. Even two full siblings can share different amounts of genes with a grandparent or a cousin. In autosomal DNA the chromosomes shared are counted by centiMorgans, cMs, and with each generation we have less and less of our ancestors, sort of like GGPs 12.5%, GGGPs 6.25% etc and quickly we can see that in this test, although two people might be 3rd, 4th, or 5th or 6th cousins, the test might just miss the match – and it also can and often will miss the ethnic admixture – back in time.

Then it gets complicated because, there can be combinations and re-combinations of genes and all sorts of factors for males and females and then X-genes – but for the most part – people try to see too many, too distant relationships that cannot be seen with autosomal matching – for that you need y-DNA, and so the same is true for the admixture – there is a wee bit of history but this is a lot of mostly recent information.

The admixture interpretation is also subjective – one company might call a set of SNPs Scandinavian while someone else might call them Norse – this is not a good example but the first failure of all the companies was having their own identification of what SNPs, are what group of people. Then there were companies trying to be more uniform, and then some results were seen to drastically change – well, drastically change as in, there might have only been 1.0% of East Indian in one person’s ancestry results – but now that it is gone, it is missed, all 1% of it – especially for those that might have made pilgrimages to India before the ancestry admixture went away.

Reading the genes amounts to judge relationships based on shared gene amounts is easy, parents and children share around 3,200 cMs and siblings 2,200 maybe more or less, and half siblings maybe 1,300 to 2,000 – sort of; 1st cousins 500 to 1,000 cMs maybe, and so on and so on, with known variable amounts for all the other cousins by distance – the shared gene amounts are pretty cut and dried, and there are several good charts for how many cMs one should have with any relative, easy to google online for charts.

But for the admixture, part of the problem is what any company has in their databases to compare you to. I was recently told a person has genes that are named as Italian with one company – I was dumb-struck, I happen to know she is a Chaldean Iraqi, we can be reasonably sure both her sides have been in Iraq for a fairly long time. I think the databases are going to have to upgrade. But this information has her and her family upset to no end, and I think it might be wrong information – this is a shame and disgrace.

This note is already too long and I must cut to the chase – but I repeat – no one can take my admixture results away from me – I love them all! But although they are more than a grain of salt – they are nothing to get excited over, this is recent ancestry anyway – we are much more than all these in our ancient SNPs, we are all peoples – see blog notes, Pedigree Collapse and Neanderthal Identity.



Mother’s admixture is the top and mine is the bottom (so remember in this test the results are reflecting both parents and all of ancestors whose genes are seen and also my mother’s are  both of her parents and all of theirs). I tested autosomal with this company in 2012 and mother was tested in 2013. This was sometime in 2014 that the screen captures were taken – not positive of the month.

So according to the above, mother had no Indian Princess to explain her looks, she was not Chippewa, as so often said, for so many years. There is no denying a large swath of her ancestry from early French Quebec that some of the early ancestors were known Native Americans recorded as such by the Catholic records of Quebec – so maybe the Native ancestry was just too far back to see.

But the 2% Central Asia above in the 2014 results was the most exciting thing since sliced bread, so I began to ‘go to lunch’ on Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and… it was… wrong?

Mother’s looks, her skin color, might be mighty white where you grew up, but where I grew up she had golden olive skin that countless people pointed out to me, countless times, over many years, how she looked different.


Shirley Ann Kidd – In the wheel chair in 2009 at Oak Mountain State Park, Jefferson County, Alabama; Mother in color in about 1978 in Cahaba Heights with Herman the squirrel (the squirrel would eat out of mother’s hand), Jefferson County, Alabama; Mother in Black & White 1950 something, mid to late 50s. This was a series of photos and this is the only one that survives. There were others that showed bruises and her hair had been chopped off in a fit of domestic anger.



Do What? – Now mother has trace Native American for both North and Central American genes, and both my and her admixtures show this trace of Finland. So now I am proudly ‘going to lunch’ on the Leningrad Cowboys and my favorite song is of course “Sweet Home Alabama”.

I am telling you, it is me all over – I love it!


cherie ad 1 all - 1

All me. Note the top left in this group has the earlier 2014 version of me from that company – but these were all taken from the different companies at the same time. From the best I can read the properties of this composite of admixture on my computer I made it or last altered it in March of 2016. Yes, I need to make new screen shots and with the added companies that have been tested since (will do for a side by side of all the companies in a note).

To me, the results speak for themselves and I venture to say another person might read my results differently from what I see. There have been different methods, and particularly now some companies who are maybe, changing to testing more medical and wellness SNPs or genes (or how ever the companies might each term their method), as opposed to more SNPs to read genealogy and anthropology is changing what we see in our results of ourselves.

There have even been the software wars and some companies allow uploads of raw data sequenced elsewhere, and one can see their matches, bells and whistles with another company. But because of competition, or changes to other systems, periodically, the raw data from one company, cannot be uploaded to some other companies because their computers can’t read the new configuration – or something like that. So there have been ups and downs about which companies to test with first and last.

Like AncestryDNA does not take uploads at all, neither does 23andme, (not as of this writing – I am happy to change and update anything). So, if you want their goodies you will send them a sample for testing and pay for that testing.  But 23 and Ancestry both, along with who I say is the still most important and 1st company of DNA testing,, ftDNA, have remained the big three for DNA testing until the last couple years and now the industry has grown and you can DNA anything – what wine you would like and they will sell it yo you, what to do about your pudgy, – when they make a test to match me as direct descendant of the mother G-dess, Venus of Willindorf, I will buy the test, you can keep your descent from an Indian Princess (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I want the creatoress of the universe.



Wikimedia Commons: By Don Hitchcock (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Of course there were other relatively early testing companies, National Geographic’s Genographic project has offered a test for many years and if you followed and still follow  Dr Spencer Wells you have to do Genographic and we did the first two, 1.0 and 2.0 (we have not done 2.0 Next Gen, its add ons felt like getting robbed – they should have not made 1.0s feel like they got nothing for their money).

Then my Dai had to do DNACymru after all his paternal grandfather was born in Wales – our G2a. Then we both did the LivingDNA love it – love… it! Talk about admixture with a twist right into Yorkshire and this place and that and so on, and more to come about LivingDNA company in the side by side note.

And now the Holy Grail of testing from Spencer Wells’ and his genetic master partner Razib Kahn’s innovations in DNA reading with their and their sequencer and their many partners.

My Dai and I, have a buffet of DNA testing and this is only the companies that test and provide goodies, I must mention there are also the places to upload your sequenced raw data and see new and more admixture, matching, and besides guessed genetic eye color, also, were your parents related?, with And, I add again has multiple computer software programs to read your admixture – you can see everything in the world, of so far collected SNPs to read – keeping in mind these are individuals’ interpretations of SNPs and their admixture software readers.

Wonderful sites of must do uploads are the ftDNA sponsored, free databases, ysearch and mitosearch. You can also contribute to research by uploading with Yaniv Erlich’s, and you can learn more health with’s reports, among others and many more places to test anything now. is the only company that I know of who currently offers all three main tests – y-DNA, mt-DNA and au-DNA and also gives all the bells and whistles that we want for DNA for genealogy – the details (marker values and SNPs) and then offers participant matching and comparison with other participants by phasing, a tree, and no subscription.

They were my first love, and where I have my DNA project for my family and friends – my genetic cousins and in-laws – to join, ‘French Broad River Families’.



By Y-dna data file (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons – correct the map being blurred

Haplogroups as we understand them today, begin in Africa. This earliest mother referred to as Eve is mt-DNA haplogroup L and then mother L had daughter L1 L2 and L3 and L3 appears to be the lady that left Africa and her sisters our matriarch aunts L1 and L2 mostly remained at home. Finally more testing is being done in Africa and we are learning finally more about L1 and L2. From the stand point of the Out of Africa DNA story, mother L3. But almost all people alive have at least some ancestor descended from her including today’s sub-Saharan Africans, with few exceptions and we all have our aunts for mothers – and mother’s for aunts – DNA variety disappears quickly in pedigree collapse. – Meaning we all descend from everybody, but that is another blog note.

Mother (haplogroup) L3 that left Africa had two daughters that we know of, M and N; Mostly mother M – Haplogroup M and her descendants remained in and around the Mediterranean and went east. and Mother N, Haplogroup N had daughter R and so when we each learn our own haplogroup(s) then we can add, real SNPs as ancestors to our very own trees.


h10 tree

I am mt-DNA haplogroup H10a1  – now do NOT follow this chart as an exact anything – this is a made up general chart in bad need of updating – but, give or take a few 1,000 years and a few SNPs, here is an ancestry of me via my haplogroup.



Here is the ancestry of my Dai’s G2a and on this chart, I have at least attempted the SNP name. These are all from our Genographic 2.0 and if my use is a nono I will delete.


Now who would not want an ancestry chart going back 10s of 1,000s of years and seeing our ancestors and aunts and uncles SNPs migrating all across the world and back – North almost to the Arctic and back to the Middle East to mix again with our African couns and our Neanderthal cousins and back out again to Siberia and beyond and some back again and mixing again with friend and foe alike.

…and so we have our ancestries via following haplogroups – mothers and her daughters through time – so once you know your haplogroup you can see your ancestry back in times 1000s of 10s of 1,000s of years ago… and father’s and his sons – and yes i love my admixture also – but DNA is more than a pie chart – it is a passport to Pangaea.


Copy of shirleys film 2

ole’ French Broads. Well, it depends on which admixture – how much French.


This week another article was shared which also debates some of the same issues.

Adding on June 18, 2018


This article below, by Tina Hesman Saey, has information about admixture and notes how much the results vary – whether it is because the companies have different terms or different – anything – whatever the reason – choose different companies or software to read your admixture.

from this article in Science News they have a 23andme link which I add below to a PDF which includes, that 23andme says it has “50% statistical confidence in the ethnicity results”

Click to access 23-16_ancestry_composition.pdf

Like I always say – I love ALL my admixtures.

But – my first love? haplogroups

The man that started it all


4 thoughts on “The Perils Of Admixture – there is more to DNA than a pie chart

  1. Pingback: The Trinity Of DNA Testing | Cherie Lynn's Herstory

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  3. Pingback: Gedmatch ~ Baby, Baby, Baby I Love You. Its so easy, jump in, the water is fine and the matches are too. | Cherie Lynn's Herstory

  4. Pingback: Ancient DNA. What The Heck Do I Know? I Know Where And How To Look! From Neanderthals to Mother L1 & Daddy Oh! | Cherie Lynn's Herstory

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