Ancestry Testing Reviews for National Geographic

£118.78 Converted from $149.95 £158.38

At a Glance

Editor's Rating:
3 out of 5 stars
Customer Service:
3 out of 5 stars
Clarity of Results:
4 out of 5 stars
References Cited:
3 out of 5 stars
Value for Money:
3 out of 5 stars

Summary

In summary, I thought the ‘Geno 2.0 Next Generation’ DNA test was worthwhile. I like the fact that by participating, I’ve contributed to a wider scientific research project, and appreciated the wealth of information available as a result of this.

Although it’s a bonus that access to FTDNA is included, their online account is quite complicated and offered conflicting information about my haplogroups. However, the ‘Geno 2.0 Next Generation’ test itself is definitely one of the best explained genetic ancestry tests on the market, terrific value for money and would make a lovely gift – I’d highly recommend it.

Full Review

National Geographic were offering the ‘Geno 2.0 Next Generation’ test, which claimed to provide unprecedented information about my genetic ancestry, improving upon their previous ‘Geno 2.0’ test. I decided to give it a try.

Product Expectations

The website said that National Geographic would build upon previous versions of its ancestry service, with its “cutting-edge new test kit”, which would analyse around 750,000 DNA markers in total. The Geno 2.0 Next Generation test would show the migration paths of my ancient maternal and paternal ancestors, any Neanderthal DNA in my genome, and would allow me to connect with those that shared my deep ancestry. It also emphasised the fact that this test would allow me to actively participate in the ‘Genographic Project’, which would offer extra information, including learning about the broader historical context of my results.

In terms of the differences to their previous test, similarly named the ‘Geno 2.0’, National Geographic advertised a better DNA testing chip, more reference populations with improved regional results, and more accurate haplogroup allocation.

Ordering Experience

When it came to ordering I found the checkout process pretty simple. I had to pay with my debit card directly as PayPal showed an error page once I’d inputted my details. I was slightly disappointed that the prices were in USD and that I had to pay an additional $20 for shipping.

I immediately received an email confirming my purchase and a week later got another, informing me that the test had been shipped. The kit arrived five working days later and was nicely packaged in a glossy cardboard box with a magnetic seal. A return jiffy bag was enclosed but I had to pay £4.20 to post my samples back to the US for processing.

Although I should point out that the ‘Quick Start Guide’ instructed me to track my results by registering my kit online, I was disappointed that I received no notification to tell me my results were ready. I also wrote an email to check the status of my test, about six weeks after sending it back, but got no response. I finally rang customer services, who told me to enter my kit ID on the website to access my results.

The Results

Upon accessing my results, via my online account, I was presented with a summary dashboard page. This homepage showed three sections: ‘Your Hominin Results’, ‘Your Deep Ancestry’ and ‘Your Regional Ancestry’. There was also an option to share an infographic of my results (shown below) via email or social media, which I thought was really cool, as well as links to other features associated with the results. These included the option to transfer my data to Family Tree DNA for further information and a section named ‘Our Story’, that allowed me to share any discoveries I’d made about my ancestry.

It was a very visual introduction to my results, and provided an effective and quick summary that I could look before going into them in detail.

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My personalised Genographic Project infographic.

My personalised Genographic Project infographic.

Results Section: Your Deep Ancestry

I looked first at the deep ancestry section, which I was told would provide ancestral information from between 1000 and 10,000 years ago. I was interested to see how they would be able to concisely cover such a long period of time.

This section could have been quite confusing, as each stage of migration on the map was accompanied by what seemed to be random letters and numbers. However, the introductory explanation was really good at explaining quite complicated concepts, in a way that made sense and wasn’t too overwhelming. The ‘Points of Interest’ fact boxes and photos of the region, that were included in the explanations, also added information that gave a more vivid picture of the world in which my ancestors had once lived.

My haplogroup was explained as the ancestral population group I share genetic markers with. My maternal group was ‘H23’ which was the same as only 0.2% of other participants, and my paternal group was ‘R-DF21’, the same as 1.2% of other participants. Although this was interesting, it would have been good to know whether this was just because there were so many different haplogroups, or because mine was genuinely quite rare.

Both my maternal and paternal lineages were displayed on interactive maps (my maternal map is shown below), which illustrated the possible paths that my ancestors took through Europe and Asia after leaving Africa 60-70,000 years ago.

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My Deep Ancestry on my maternal line.

My Deep Ancestry on my maternal line.

I could see the six different groups or ‘branches’ that preceded my maternal group, and the 16 that came before my paternal group. For every branch, the site provided information about that group’s age, where it had originated, and how my ancestors would probably have lived during that time. I was a bit confused about why my paternal haplogroup was determined to be R-DF21 on the homepage summary of this section, but the map only went up to L-21, with no explanation as to how these were related. I assume that my group was too specific to provide information on, but it would have been useful to have a short explanation about why L-21 was where the information ended.

In addition, heat-maps showed where those in my maternal and paternal groups tend to live today. I learned my maternal H group is the most common in western Eurasia, and my paternal L21 group is most common in Britain and Ireland. It was good to have a visual accompaniment to this information, and the fact that it was shown alongside the migratory paths really helped to connect the two aspects of my deep ancestry.

Results Section: Family Tree DNA

I was also told I could transfer my results to another genetic ancestry provider - Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) – to get further analysis for free! After selecting this option I was prompted to create a FTDNA account using my kit number. This was quick and easy and after signing up I was given immediate access to four sections: 'Y-DNA Haplotree & SNPs', a 'Y-DNA SNP map', my 'mtDNA Haplogroup Origins' and ‘myFamilyTree’.

The Y-DNA Haplotree & SNP section showed my paternal haplogroup in relation to all other groups on a branching chart (shown below). It was unsettling to see that my paternal haplogroup was predicted as R-L1336, when the Genographic Project indicated my paternal group was R-DF21.

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The location of my predicted haplogroup on the Y-DNA haplotree.

The location of my predicted haplogroup on the Y-DNA haplotree.

The Y-DNA SNP Map showed where other FTDNA customers, who shared my paternal SNPs, were located. The mtDNA Haplogroup Origins section listed the number of customers who shared my maternal haplogroup by country. It was a good addition to the heat map, and confirmed more specifically the areas where my haplogroup was common.

Results Section: Your Regional DNA

Going back to the National Geographic account, the ‘Your Regional DNA’ section showed the ‘world regions’ whose populations I shared the most genetic markers with. I was told it uses DNA markers from both my parents’ ancestors going back six generations, or more.

A chart (shown below) indicated that I shared a huge 91% of my genetic markers with those from Great Britain and Ireland and 3% with those classed as Asia Minor, which today includes countries such as Turkey and Lebanon. I also shared 3% with Scandinavian populations and, surprisingly, 3% with Native American ones. Although this was a small percentage, it was really interesting to think that some of my ancestors may have been part of a Native American tribe.

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My regional ancestry.

My regional ancestry.

Additional charts showed my mix of genetic markers was most similar to Irish populations. This wasn’t particularly surprising, as I already knew that my mother has some Irish ancestry and because of the high percentage of my DNA associated with Great Britain and Ireland.

Results section: Your Hominin Ancestry

The third section examined how related I was to the Neanderthals, a ‘cousin’ species that early humans are thought to have bred with - my result indicated that about 1% of my DNA is Neanderthal. I was a bit confused about how my result compared to others, as three different average percentages were given alongside the results (1.1%, 2.1% and 1-3%). However, according to any of these I have less Neanderthal DNA than average. It was also pointed out that a maximum of 5% of total human DNA could be Neanderthal, which gave it a bit more context .

This section also included an interesting article about what Neanderthals were and why some of our DNA is inherited from them.

Results Section: Our Story

The ‘Our Story’ section contained interactive circular charts based on my maternal and paternal lineage (paternal chart shown below). Other participants of the project were depicted on this chart according to how many genetic markers I share with them, and some had even shared their genealogical stories.

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My Our Story maternal lineage chart.

My Our Story maternal lineage chart.

There were unfortunately only a few stories for those on my maternal line, but several more for my paternal one. Although the stories within the interactive chart were only from those within my haplogroup, there was a link to the stories from others. It was interesting to read the different results that people had gotten and the (sometimes surprising) discoveries that they had made. Overall, I felt this section was interesting and I enjoyed reading the stories, but it’s a shame you can’t get in touch with these participants to find out more or ask questions.

Results section: Extra Features

Alongside the dashboard, as previously mentioned, there was a panel that included links to extra features that accompanied the results, such as the choice to use Family Tree DNA, and to share my results with others. This section included one feature that was really helpful, and has often been something that I’ve wished other tests had. The glossary included easily understandable explanations about several of the words used in the results (eg. genetic marker) but also words generally associated with the DNA testing and genealogy (eg. double helix).

Another feature within this section was the option to print out my results. This was a great accompaniment to the interactive online report, as it meant that as well as exploring the results on my own, I could share it with any members of my family that were interested. I imagine it would also be a valuable feature for those receiving the test as a gift, as a printed version makes a lovely keepsake and allows the DNA analysis to be added to any existing genealogy research that someone might already have.

Summary

In summary, I thought the ‘Geno 2.0 Next Generation’ DNA test was worthwhile. I like the fact that by participating, I’ve contributed to a wider scientific research project, and appreciated the wealth of information available as a result of this.

Although it’s a bonus that access to FTDNA is included, their online account is quite complicated and offered conflicting information about my haplogroups. However, the ‘Geno 2.0 Next Generation’ test itself is definitely one of the best explained genetic ancestry tests on the market, terrific value for money and would make a lovely gift – I’d highly recommend it.

See a description of this DNA test from National Geographic >