Blog post

Thursday, April 7, 2011

FamilyTreeDNA results – Population Finder

Yesterday, a week ahead of schedule, my FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder results came back. I’ve also had testing with 23andMe as well (see my earlier posts covering health and haplogroups and Ancestry Finder) and have been looking forward to comparing the two.

The FamilyTreeDNA pages don’t give much away about what you will actually see when your results come back. Although I had some idea of the most important content – a list of matches with names attached! – the detail of what would be returned wasn’t 100% clear to me even after searching the FAQs.  Now I see a new set of menu items in the side bar.


When I discussed the 23andMe results I covered the health and haplogroup information first. FamilyTreeDNA doesn’t provide health information, and haplogroups require a different test. What I do have is a tool that compares my DNA against various reference populations.

Population Finder

The FamilyTreeDNA Population Finder goes to a greater level of detail than any of the similar tools in 23andMe. 23andMe had me as 100% European – a boringly expected result! Population Finder went further. It has me as 100% Orcadian, by which I gather they mean British Isles. The confidence interval was plus or minus 0.01% - they couldn’t really get much more confident about what part of the world my genes appear to have come from.

The thing that surprised me about this was that even with many more subgroups (see here) they didn’t see even a smidgeon of me that looked like somewhere other than British Isles! That’s so boring that it’s interesting again.

Next time – Matches


  1. I had the same Population Finder results. Boring! I know that they are working to expand the test, so hopefully I'll show up as something a bit more diverse in the future.

  2. Shelley,

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  3. I had the same Population Finder results. Boring! I know that they are working to expand the test, so hopefully I'll show up as something a bit more diverse in the future.

  4. I, also, just got my results back from FTDNA on the Family Finder, and it says I'm 100% Orcadian, but also has a test pending. As you say, that seems somewhat boring, but in a way, also comforting. My mother, uncles, and grandparents were from Scotland, and thought I was "pure" Scots, but found my ancestral origin is Ireland, with VERY strong Norwegian......never anything mentioned of either, so must have been back in the mists of time. After reading up on the Western Isles of Scotland, and the history thereof, not so surprised by results.  Looks like the "Celts" march on!

  5. Hi,

    I received my results, and am 88% Western European (Orcadian), 8% European with "Finnish, Russian" next to the record and 4% Middle Eastern with "Iranian/Jewish/Adygei/Palestinian/Bodouin/Druze." The Orcadian part was surprising in that my ancestry was bulked into a group and labeled as Orcadian. Is it fair to refer to a group of mixed Celtic/Norse as Orcadian if they aren't from Orkney but instead share common ethnicity? Why not just indicate Western European and then like the Finnish,Russian example above, indicate Irish, Scottish, Norway etc.? The Finnish, Russian and Middle Eastern parts, WOW, now those were surprising. I compared these results with my DNA Tribes,analysis, and the results from these two different test were highly complimentary. I can't wait to see how the results improve with technology.

  6. Just received my results(only population finder so far) and am 92%Orcadian and 7.89 middle eastern.This is significantly different to 23 and me who gave me 62% british, some french,some scandinavian and a fraction of sub saharan african.I am intrigued.

  7. Got my family finder results- 84% orcadian, 7% African and 9% Middle Eastern. What are the odds of so many of us having the basic ancestry? I hope I'm wrong but I think FTDNA wants me to purchase additional breakdowns and I'll keep getting the same data. Ftdna like ancestry only helps if distant relatives are in their database to compare.