I hope someone can help me understand my DNA test results from My Heritage.com.

Since i know that my family is kind of mixed, i thought it would be a great idea to see which parts of foreign DNA i inherited. We live in Northern Germany. My maternal grandmother has definitely slavic heritage and my maternal grandfather is supposed to have also a bulgarian or some southern (slavic) background (he is adopted, so thats what we concluded from the information we had.) the maternal side from my father were German Ashkenazi Jews. Only my paternal grandfather was german.

I was really excited for my results. I'm not at Genealogy Expert, but i thought this test help me to find out why my appearance looks like this. I was told many times that I look really russian or ukrainian. My whole face structure is really slavic and I do have really fair skin and hair.

Isn't it possible to estimate what DNA someone might have based on your looks?

I know that Germany is hard to see as one ethnic group, but I definetly wouldn't see myself as Central/Northern-European looking. But thats what i got: A hundred percent(!) result Central-Europe/Northern Europe Ethnicity estimate.

I still don't understand how this could work?

I know that DNA is not evenly passed down. What confuses me is that i read everywhere that nobody could have a hundred percent of one ethnicity and with my family history it just seems... unrealistic.

2 Answers 2


It's important to note that race and ethnicity is not necessarily part of DNA. Ethnicity estimates are based on samples of the current population in different regions and finding patterns in certain DNA markers for those populations which you may share with them, for any reason. It is an estimate based on statistics and not a hard science.

Having that said, it's important to note that DNA estimates give you an idea of where your ancestry came from thousands of years ago, not necessarily hundreds of years ago. You could have ancestors from Ireland, for example, that lived there for 300 years and before that, came from say, Egypt.

My question to you would be, why are you surprised to have 100% DNA from Central or Northern European? All the places you say your family are from are relatively close to each other.

Check out a free tool called GedMatch.com. You are able to upload your DNA to it and check out different "schools of thought" on reading your DNA for an ethnicity estimate. There are a half a dozen or so different scientific groups that have made different conclusions on how to the read the DNA. (My favorite is Happla World.) One group said I was 33% Mediterranean, while another group says I'm 20% Scandinavian. You can decide for yourself what makes the most sense, and none of them are specifically wrong, it's just that the science of ethnicity and DNA inheritance in humans is in it's formative stages still and based on statistics. I hope this helps.

Here's a great article that gives some perspective on what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to using DNS to estimate ethical heritage: https://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2016/02/12/466379200/can-you-tell-your-ethnic-identity-from-your-dna

  • Interesting you should say that Irish may have come from Egypt, as the Pharaohs had the red hair gene!
    – Charlie
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 7:38
  • Red hair comes from Scandinavians and Vikings, not Irish originally, but that's moot. Blond vikings and red-headed Irish are stereotypes.
    – Christia
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 7:48
  • blond Vikings are not stereotypes, 99% of Scandinavian people in the 8th century had blonde hair. If you read Germania by Cornelius Tacitus, you will learn than non-blonde hair was so rare in Scandinavia that those who were not blonde were named thusly (IE redmane, the red, etc). However, red headed Irish is a stereotype as in Germania the Celtic people are variously listed as being red haired, blonde haired and dark haired (a mix).
    – Charlie
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 14:44
  • This isn't really a place for these kinds of extended arguments and discussions.
    – Christia
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 16:57
  • there is no discussion to be had
    – Charlie
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 19:08

"I know that DNA is not evenly passed down". Yes it is. You inherit exactly half from both parents (excluding the mitochondrial DNA, which is solely from your mother, and your Y chromosome, which is solely from your father). All 22 other chromosome pairs have exactly 50% from both parents.

However, I don't know how good your genetics knowledge is, but genes are not EXPRESSED 50/50. For example, if we simplify to say nose shape. One may say " you have your father's nose" as your father's gene is more dominant than your mother's.

Onto the next question, why is all your DNA 100% Northern European? It could be down to a few things, but the most likely possibility is that the test results aren't very accurate. DNA testing is still in its infancy and has not been refined to the point where it can recognise the difference between a Slav and a German. As more people are added to the database and geneticists learn more, the results will become more accurate. At the moment, scientists sometimes struggle to identify between species, such as Neanderthal and Denisovans or even Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens!

  • It isn't exactly evenly passed down. Since you can only inherit 50% of each parents DNA, and that 50% is random, you have no way of knowing which ethnic DNA you're going to get. For example, I am Irish, but didn't inherit any of it from my mother.
    – Christia
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 5:14
  • What do your mean "That 50% is random"?
    – Charlie
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 7:36
  • 1
    So what you're saying is the value of bases inherited is 50%, but which 50% is not predictable? That's not really true. Off your mother is truly ethnically Irish, then that would show in your DNA. If a gene is not dominant, it is still passes on as a carrier gene.
    – Charlie
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 7:42
  • 1
    @Charlie - recessive and dominant genes don't really have much to do with the percentage of DNA that comes from a grandparent. The percentage of DNA from each grandparent depends on how the genes cross over during meiosis. The cross over points are not right in the middle - they happen anywhere along the chromosome. Take a look at the picture in this link for an illustration: phschool.com/science/biology_place/labbench/lab3/crossovr.html
    – Brainstorm
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 3:25
  • 1
    Also, there can be multiple cross-over points for any given chromosome. The number of cross-over points is random, with the distribution of the number of cross-over points being dependent on sex and associated centimorgans. On average you will get 25% from each grandparent. But some people are not average.
    – Brainstorm
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 19:31

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