Ancestry DNA Testing Reviews for CRI Genetics

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From $79.00  $99.00

At a Glance

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

Summary

The ancestry DNA test from CRI Genetics had some fun, interesting and interactive features. I liked reading the histories of the different regions, and the animation feature in the haplogroup map provided a unique way to follow the migrations of my maternal ancestors.

However, I was skeptical about how the results for my “Famous People” report had been achieved, and confused about the fact that the results in my Ancestry Composition report and Ancestry Timeline didn’t agree with each other.

Full Review

CRI Genetics was founded in October 2016, and is led by Alexei Fedorov, Ph.D., a genetics researcher with more than 35 years’ experience. Based in Santa Monica, California, the company aims to unlock the information in our DNA and present it in a way that’s interesting, useful, and easy to understand, and can help you to improve your life.

Please note that reviews of the health-related aspects of the test can be found here.

Product Expectations

The CRI Genetics website was bright and busy. I saw that their ancestry DNA test would look for 642,824 markers in my genome, and that my report would be available in eight weeks, “or your money back”. Their ancestry analysis included both an autosomal test, which would reveal my more recent ancestry, and maternal and paternal haplogroup tests, which reveal the mother- and father-lines we belong to. (While men can take both maternal and paternal ancestry tests, women can only take maternal ancestry tests themselves.)

There were assurances that my information would be kept secure: once CRI Genetics received my sample, they would remove all identifying information and encrypt my data. They stated that they would not share my information without my explicit consent.

In the FAQs, CRI Genetics stated that their results were “typically 99.9% accurate”, which I found surprising, since we lose so much of our ancestors’ DNA with every generation, as we inherit a random selection of half our parents’ chromosomes. I might, for instance, have a fourth-great-grandmother who was Ashkenazi Jewish, but if I have inherited no DNA from her then it won’t show up on an ancestry DNA test.

I also found that – if I wished – I could download my genetic data, or request that it be deleted and destroyed.

I saw that my kit would be delivered within five days of purchase, and that I could send the samples back in a prepaid envelope. Within eight weeks, I’d receive an email telling me my results are ready.

Ordering Experience

Before ordering, I decided to look through the terms and conditions and privacy policy. I saw that CRI Genetics would not disclose my information to third parties, unless I had opted to take part in their research project. They made it clear that their health reports were not intended to be used to diagnose any health condition, and did not constitute medical advice. Additionally, they made no guarantees of the accuracy, reliability, comprehensiveness, quality, etc. of their services, which I thought was a bit strange.

I ordered the kit online and was given the option of paying with a debit/credit card or PayPal. They would ship anywhere in the US, but not overseas. There was an additional shipping fee.

The kit arrived by mail within a few business days of ordering and looked just like the one pictured on the website. It arrived intact, and was good enough quality that I’d have been happy to give it as a gift. It included instructions about how to take a DNA sample (using the cheek swab provided). It took less than a minute to take a sample which was really easy and painless.

Before returning the kit, I had to register it online using the kit number found on the bottom of the box. I had to agree to the Terms and Conditions in order to register, and there was also an optional Consent Form. Reading the form, I found that signing it meant I consented to the CRI Genetics Research Project, which would give the company further license to use my genetic data for research, which may be published in scientific journals.

The kit included an envelope with prepaid postage, so it was simple to send my DNA sample back to the lab. I got an email confirming that they had received my sample and, only two weeks later (they specified six to eight as standard), I received another email with a link to my results in my online account.

The Results

After logging in, I was taken to my results dashboard. I had ordered both the Ancestry and Health reports, and all of my results were viewable here.

In addition to the Ancestry Composition report, I also had results available for “Maternal Haplogroup”, “Famous People” and “Timeline”.

Results Section: Ancestry Composition

The first section I looked at was my Ancestry Composition. There was a printable copy of this section, but the online version included an interactive map (shown below), providing a more dynamic experience.

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My Ancestry Composition map.

My Ancestry Composition map.

My ancestry seemed to be entirely European. 68% of my ancestry was from England, 18% from Germany, 13% from Scandinavia, 1% from Russia/Ukraine, and 1% Southern or Central Slavic. Clicking on the different ancestry percentages zoomed in on the relevant parts of the map, and there was also some information about the history of each region.

The ancestry results weren’t very far off what I know about my family, since most of our ancestry is from the British Isles and Ireland. However, I was surprised that they had identified England so specifically, and not Scotland, Wales and Ireland, from where I also expected to have ancestry, particularly from Ireland.

Results Section: Haplogroup Analysis

According to CRI Genetics’ analysis of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) I’d inherited from my mother, I belonged to the H2 maternal haplogroup.

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The interactive maternal haplogroup map.

The interactive maternal haplogroup map.

This section was actually pretty interesting. I could play an animation showing the migrations of my maternal ancestors from Kenya to Sudan, Armenia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India/Pakistan and finally to Russia, where presumably members of the H2 haplogroup continued to spread throughout Europe and Asia.

In the information, I read that maternal haplogroup H is the most common and most diverse maternal lineage in Europe today. People belonging to this haplogroup typically have a higher maximal oxygen uptake (V02 max), meaning that they have better endurance performance.

There was also plenty of information about the migrations of ancient peoples into Europe and Asia from the Last Ice Age to the Bronze Age.

Results Section: Famous People Analysis

One report I was skeptical about was the Famous People Analysis, which would show me the famous people I’m related to, both people from history and celebrities living today.

I found the report showed famous people sharing the same haplogroup(s) as me, which would indicate some sort of genetic relationship, though CRI themselves stated that “there is still a low likelihood that you are closely related to any one of these individuals”.

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A snippet from my Famous People report.

A snippet from my Famous People report.

According to CRI, famous people sharing my maternal haplogroup include Nicolaus Copernicus, Empress Maria Theresa, Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Victoria, Warren Buffett, Susan Sarandon, and Dr. Mehmet Oz.

I was confused by these results, since although sharing a haplogroup would indicate some shared ancestry, surely Copernicus and Queen Victoria had never taken a DNA haplogroup test! This made me wonder how this report could possibly be accurate.

Results Section: Ancestry Timeline

I read that the Ancestry Timeline would provide estimated date ranges of when my ancestors of different ethnicities had entered my family tree. The information said that I could use this information to work out when my ancestors migrated, and how this had led to the results shown in my Ancestry Composition.

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My Ancestry Timeline.

My Ancestry Timeline.

The timeline showed that my British ancestry dated back to around 1400. I had some Northwestern European ancestry earlier in the timeline, with British and Northwestern European ancestors recurring again and again. However, I was surprised to see that the result differed somewhat from my Ancestry Composition analysis, since I had Toscani Italian ancestry introduced in 1550, and Bengali, Punjabi, Iberian and Japanese ancestry later on.

These ancestries hadn’t been indicated in my Ancestry Composition map, and so I was confused about where they had come from. My Japanese ancestry result was dated to 1850, giving me 0.9% Japanese ancestry. They had given this result an accuracy rating of more than 80%.

Summary

The ancestry DNA test from CRI Genetics had some fun, interesting and interactive features. I liked reading the histories of the different regions, and the animation feature in the haplogroup map provided a unique way to follow the migrations of my maternal ancestors.

However, I was skeptical about how the results for my “Famous People” report had been achieved, and confused about the fact that the results in my Ancestry Composition report and Ancestry Timeline didn’t agree with each other.

See a description of this DNA test from CRI Genetics >

At a Glance

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

Summary

In summary, some aspects of CRI Genetics’ BioGeographical Ancestry test were worthwhile, but fairly basic when compared to other providers. The online interactive features were interesting and visually pleasing, though limited. It was illuminating to see my ancestry displayed on a map, and the timeline feature gave a better idea of when ancestors of the various ethnicities had lived.

However, there were parts of my Ancestry Composition that didn’t fit with what I know about my ancestors and I would have trusted the results more had there been any explanation of the scientific evidence used to determine them.

Full Review

CRI Genetics was founded in October 2016, and is led by Alexei Fedorov, Ph.D., a genetics researcher with 35 years of experience. The company is based in Santa Monica, California and is made up of a team of geneticists, anthropologists, and social scientists who aim to “combine genetics with anthropology to trace the migrations of the human race”.

Their ancestry test uses DNA analysis software designed by Fedorov himself to examine 642,824 specific markers to produce a ‘BioGeographical Ancestry Report’ that analyses where your ancestors came from. I was interested to find out more about whether I’d find any unexpected ethnicities in my DNA, so gave their test a go.

Please note that reviews of the health-related aspects of the test can be found here.

Product Expectations

The CRI Genetics website was bright and easy to navigate. There was plenty of information about the test, and it offered clear and concise advice about the different stages of the process: ordering the kit, receiving it, taking a sample, returning it, and receiving results.

The website promised to have my results processed in six to eight weeks, with an eight-week maximum guaranteed. I was impressed by this, as I haven’t seen many other ancestry testing providers offering this kind of guarantee. I was informed that they would analyze 642,824 relevant genetic markers in my DNA, which – combined with anthropological research – would allow them to trace my ancestry. The specific regions they tested for were not listed, but they stated in their FAQs that the test could not be used to legally confirm race. I was surprised that this didn’t explain that race is a social construct, not a biological one, and therefore can’t be determined using any DNA test. They did offer an explanation of ‘BioGeographical Ancestry’ which was described as a breakdown of where our genes come from, and our place in the evolutionary and geographical history of our species.

There was an assurance that all data would be confidential, and that any genetic data they stored would not be labelled with my name. I would also be able to ask for it to be deleted if I wished.

I was told that I would receive step-by-step instructions with my kit, which I would receive in the mail. Six to eight weeks after my sample reached the lab, I would receive an email with a link to all of my information.

Ordering Experience

Looking at the Terms and Conditions, I saw that CRI Genetics promised not to share my data with third parties, unless I had opted to take part in their research project. I could request for my sample and genetic information to be destroyed and deleted, which reassured me.

I ordered the kit online and was given the option of paying with a debit/credit card or PayPal. They would ship anywhere in the US, but not overseas. I was able to add delivery instructions, which was helpful for including notes in case I wasn’t in when the kit was delivered.

The kit arrived by mail within a few business days of ordering and looked just like the one pictured on the website. It arrived intact, and was good enough quality that I’d have been happy to give it as a gift. It included instructions about how to take a DNA sample (using the cheek swab provided). It took less than a minute to take a sample which was really easy and painless.

Before returning the kit, I had to register it online using the kit number found on the bottom of the box. I had to agree to the Terms and Conditions in order to register, and there was also an optional Consent Form. At first glance, it appeared that this was a compulsory part of the process, as there was a tick box beneath the one for the Terms and Conditions, However, scrolling down the form I found that it was, in fact, optional.

Reading the form, I found that signing it meant I consented to the CRI Genetics Research Project, which would give the company further license to use my genetic data for research, which may be published in scientific journals. I was glad of the opportunity to contribute, and pleased that they’d explained how my data would be used in so much detail. However, I was concerned by the fact that it appeared to be a compulsory part of the registration process.

The kit included an envelope with prepaid postage, so it was simple to send it back to the lab. I got an email confirming that they had received my sample and only two weeks later (they specified six to eight as standard), I received another linking me to my results in my online account.

The Results

After logging in I was taken to a page with my results divided into ‘Ancestry Composition’, ‘Maternal Haplogroup’, ‘Paternal Haplogroup’, ‘Famous People’ and ‘Timeline’. Scrolling down the page, I was offered more information about the types of DNA testing (autosomal, paternal, and maternal).

I had read that the BioGeographical Ancestry Report would only show ancestry composition based on my autosomal DNA, and so I was interested to see that there appeared to be results sections for Maternal Haplogroup, Paternal Haplogroup and Famous People. However, clicking on these took me to pages where I could purchase upgrades. I thought this was a bit misleading, as on my results homepage they had appeared to form part of my results.

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My results dashboard.

My results dashboard.

Results Section: Ancestry Composition

The first section I looked at was my Ancestry Analysis. There was a printable copy of this section, but the online version included an interactive map (shown below), providing a more dynamic experience.

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An interactive map of my Ancestry Composition.

An interactive map of my Ancestry Composition.

There was also a percentage breakdown of my genetic ethnicity. It told me I was 89.5% European: 24.2% Northwestern European, 23.4% British, 20.2% Finnish, 11% Iberian and 10.7% Toscani Italian. I also had lower percentages (less than 5%) of Gujarati Indian, Punjabi, Bengali, Sri Lankan Tamil, Puerto Rican, Peruvian, Colombian, Mexican, Japanese, Kinh Vietnamese and Chinese Dai DNA. Clicking on each of these took me to different parts of my ancestral map.

Clicking on my different ancestral ethnicities also brought up further information about each region, such as which modern-day countries it included, when the area was first inhabited, a brief history of their early civilization, and which groups migrated there over time. It was interesting to see all the different world regions that my ancestors heralded from. However, this page did not give me any idea of when my ancestors had migrated from which region.

The categories used were also surprisingly broad. I was surprised to see that British included Sweden, Norway, France, and Belgium, while Kinh Vietnamese, which seemed very specific, included Cambodia, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Laos. I guessed that could be due to the company being cautious about being too specific, but it seemed odd that someone whose entire ancestry came from France and Belgium could be identified as British!

My results tallied broadly with my knowledge of my ancestry: all four of my grandparents were Irish, which could be included under the general banner of ‘Northwestern European’. However, my Finnish result in particular (20.2%) didn’t seem to match with anything I know about my ancestors. My blood type (B+) is quite rare in the US but common in India, which may explain the Indian results. I’m not aware of any ancestors from that region of the world though, or from any of the South American or East Asian countries that had been mentioned.

Results Section: Timeline

Before being able to access the ‘Timeline’, I was asked to fill in a short survey, answering questions about my parents’ and grandparents’ heritage. (There were ‘Not Sure’ options for people who didn’t know this information).

I read that the timeline provided estimated date ranges of when ancestors of the various ethnicities that had contributed to my DNA had lived. It said that I could use this information to work out when my ancestors migrated, leading to the results shown in my Ancestry Composition. I was told that my British ancestry dated back to 1400 (shown below).

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A diagram showing what year my Finnish, British and NW European ancestry dated back to.

A diagram showing what year my Finnish, British and NW European ancestry dated back to.

Scrolling along the diagram (which I didn’t, at first, realize was interactive!), I found out that the earliest ancestors I’d inherited DNA from had likely lived in Northwestern Europe around 1250. I also had Finnish DNA dating back to 1350. Later, around 1550, Toscani Italian and Peruvian ancestors added to my ancestry.

The diagram showed me when my ancestors had joined my family tree (an estimated date, rather than the date ‘range’ that had been described earlier), and how much they had contributed to it. For instance, I was told that my ancestry (or “ancestory”, as it was spelt; a strange oversight in a report coming from an ancestry testing company) was 0.9% Bengali, as evidenced from a single segment of chromosome dating back to 1650 (shown below).

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Timeline information about my Bengali ancestry.

Timeline information about my Bengali ancestry.

Strangely, I was found to be 11% Iberian, even though this was also only one segment of chromosome, this time dating back to 1750.I was confused about how the same number of chromosome segments resulted in an estimation of 0.9% for one ethnicity and 11% for another, Unfortunately, there was no explanation provided. There was also no information as to which chromosomes these were, so it wasn’t clear what the scientific basis for this information was.

While the timeline was interesting and visually pleasing, it didn’t offer me much more information than my Ancestry Composition had. Though it was gratifying to know the approximate date at which my ancestors joined my family tree, I couldn’t work out how the few questions I had answered about my parents and grandparents had affected this or been used. There were also accuracy ratings provided for each of the results (my 23.4% British ancestry had an accuracy rating of >80%), but there was nothing to show how this had been calculated.

Summary

In summary, some aspects of CRI Genetics’ BioGeographical Ancestry test were worthwhile, but fairly basic when compared to other providers. The online interactive features were interesting and visually pleasing, though limited. It was illuminating to see my ancestry displayed on a map, and the timeline feature gave a better idea of when ancestors of the various ethnicities had lived.

However, there were parts of my Ancestry Composition that didn’t fit with what I know about my ancestors and I would have trusted the results more had there been any explanation of the scientific evidence used to determine them.

See a description of this DNA test from CRI Genetics >