Where do we come from? Who are we? From a young age I have been fascinated about life’s most sought after answers. Humans are naturally curious creatures, and one thing that seems to fascinate us all, is learning more about our identity and our history.
I have been interested in exploring my own ancestry for a while now, and was delighted to receive a kit from Living DNA to review. It is so exciting to be able to trace my lineage back thousands of years, to see the paths my ancestors took that finally led them to settle in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, where I grew up.
WHAT IS LIVING DNA?
Living DNA launched in 2016 and is a collaboration of over 100 world-leading scientists, academic researchers, and genetic experts from across the globe, which brings cutting edge DNA technology to the world.
Living DNA is able to track your ancestors’ movements at several points in time between 80,000 to 150,000 years ago, from the point modern humans migrated out of Africa.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?
A DNA swab kit arrives in the post with step by step instructions. All that is required is a simple mouth swab that collects cells from the inside of your cheek. Once you have collected your sample, the swab is placed into a test tube, which is then placed into a free returns bag. You can then send your sample off and await your results!
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Rather than looking at your DNA in isolation, Living DNA analyses unique combinations of ‘linked DNA’. This means that once they find out the origins of your ancestry, they are able to retrieve a detailed genetic and population history of your heritage, providing facts about the population groups you share most of your DNA with today. The test doesn’t just look at your recent ancestry, but lets you see your lineage throughout human history.
Accuracy is essential when performing the ancestry test, which is why they provide a percentage breakdown across 80 worldwide regions. This was my favourite feature when looking at the results. Not only does it allow you to see what percentage of your ancestry was for example, British, but within Britain, there are 21 regions, and Living DNA can pinpoint which specific regions your ancestry came from. Amazing!
The results are split into three parts: Family Ancestry, Motherline, and Fatherline.
Your family ancestry looks at your recent ancestry (approximately 10 generations back) broken down across 80 worldwide regions, and allows you to explore this at different points in history. This part of your DNA is passed down from all your ancestors and makes up your unique genetic code.
My results revealed me to be 97% British (includes Ireland), 2% Scandinavian, and 1% Basque. I wanted to find out exactly where in the British Isles my most recent ancestors came from, as I know I have great grandparents that are Irish. Living DNA was able to determine this for me and show me that out of the 97% of my ancestry that was British, almost 40% were from Northumbria (which makes sense considering that’s where myself, my parents, and my grandparents grew up), 21% were Irish (when combining N. Ireland and Ireland), and 11% were Scottish.
I was particularly interested in the 2% Scandinavian part – maybe a few of my ancestors were Vikings and this has stayed in my genetic code! Living DNA was able to show me that during the ‘Middle Ages’ (1200 years ago), I had ancestors in Norway, which was also the time Vikings expanded out of Scandinavia across Europe. Another interesting discovery is being 1% Basque. The Basque country is an autonomous community located in the western Pyrenees, straddling the border between France and Spain on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. There used to be a strong Roman presence in Basque, and some soldiers were sent over to Northumbria to guard Hadrian’s Wall in 128 AD. Although this is clearly more than 10 generations ago, it would make sense that those born in Northumbria have DNA that has stayed within the gene pool from that time period.
Living DNA allows you to explore both your motherline and your fatherline. They can explore your mother’s direct ancestry by looking at over 4,000 areas of your mitochondrial DNA. To determine your father’s ancestry, results are retrieved by analysing the Y chromosome which is passed from father to son. As women don’t have a Y chromosome, fatherline results are only available to males.
Both tests detect the localities of your haplogroup and its associated frequencies around the world, presenting your results in an interactive map, so you can clearly see the regions that make up your ancestry. This dates further back than your recent ancestry and in my case, traced my ancestry back 45,000 years! It is super interesting to see that 11% of people with my haplogroup reside in Druze, 8% in Georgia, 7% in Cyprus, and 6% in Lebanon.
I was provided with a unique subclade code that showed where I sat on a phylogenetic tree. The results revealed that my haplogroup was one of the furthest travelled lineages in human history. It again revealed me to be related to the Druze community that first appeared between 20,000 and 35,000 years ago in Western Asia, and migrated to Ireland, Scotland, and Norway.
In addition to your results, Living DNA supplies you with lots of historic information about what was going on in the world in certain time periods, allowing you to piece together the routes and reasons that led your ancestors to you today.
PRIVACY & SECURITY
There is a huge section on their website regarding privacy and security of data. Living DNA states that they will not use your genetic data for any other purpose than your ancestry test, without your prior consent. If at any time you would like your genetic data and DNA sample destroyed, Living DNA will comply. For further information, you can check out their Privacy& Security page.
I would definitely recommend this kit to anyone interested in exploring their ancestry. There is so much more information that I haven’t included in this post as it would be pages long, but it is one of the impressive things about Living DNA. They include so much information on both your results and their associated history, truly allowing you to discover your heritage.
If you are interested in purchasing a kit, or would like more info, click the banner below:
* I was gifted this product in exchange for a review. Views are my own.