Friday, October 18, 2013

A Puerto Rican look at: AncestryDNA 2.0 (African Portion)

This week something awesome happened- updated their DNA part of the website and added more ethnicity groups! More importantly, they now break down Africa into various sections which is amazing since this is the first time (to my knowledge) that a company has broken down the Autosomal DNA by African countries.

Part of the website introducing the new AncestryDNA

My original breakdown from AncestryDNA is provided below:

Original AncestryDNA Breakdown
Below is the new breakdown from the updated AncestryDNA:

New AncestryDNA Genetic Breakdown
Like I mentioned what's awesome is that there is a new African ethnicity breakdown which is the first time I've had some genetic hints (from my own DNA) as to where my African ancestors are from. As you can see from the picture above, my African percentage is estimated to be 23% which at 23andme is currently estimated at 16.1% (Standard) and 17.7% (Estimated).  The first country is mentioned as Mali at 12% then the rest (11%) is part of "trace regions". As you can see the Trace Regions include: African Southeastern Bantu, Africa North, Cameroon/Congo, and Senegal. The Africa North part is most likely from southern Spanish ancestors who mixed with the Muslim inhabitants who arrived from northern Africa and lived in Al-Andalus. 

Top African Country- Mali
What was so interesting is that I score 0% in the categories of: Ivory Coast/Ghana, Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers, Benin/Togo, and Nigeria. I was surprised since many slaves were brought over from these West African countries. My 1% in Senegal and Cameroon/Congo make sense since they are along the coast. Africa South Eastern Bantu interestingly matches with the Zimbabwean and Angolan 23andme cousin matches I have.

I was very surprised to receive Mali at 12%. With research I've realized that current day Mali was part of the Ghana Empire as well as the Songhai Empire, which were big players during the trans-Saharan trade. It is very possible that my ancestor(s) lived inland and were brought out to the coast and put on ships or already lived in the coast through migration within the Mali empire when borders weren't officially set. 

Mali Empire
Present Day Mali borders
According to AncestryDNA a typical native Malian is in the range of 39% due the various multiple ethnicities that exist in the country. And interestingly I am at 12% which isn't too too far off. 

Me vs. Typical Native Estimates

Having "Mali" listed in my countries is eye opening. Even though I wasn't raised "Afro-centric" I knew that I have slave roots throughout various lines in my family. With the recent discovery of my 5th great grandmother, Eglantine Lautin, being a native African brought to Martinique as a slave I wonder if current day Mali would be her homeland? Or where does this high percentage of Malian ancestry come from, various ancestors? Did they speak Bambara and a part of the Mandé people? Did they mix with the Tualeg/Berber people or were tensions already high between the two groups?

Ethnic Groups of Mali Explained

There is still MUCH to learn. Both about these results, myself and the possibility of other countries/ethnicities not yet listed. I am patiently waiting for the updated 23andme version of their Ancestry Composition to see if there are any trends/patterns. For now I will continue my research on Mali, its people and history!

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