Showing posts with label GPS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GPS. Show all posts

May 3, 2014

Prosapia Genetics - Worth the Money?

Prosapia Genetics - Worth the Money?
Yesterday I decided to check out a website that has the genealogy community buzzing. The Examiner called it a "Groundbreaking GPS tool [that] finds your ancestors, genealogy, family tree and history" 

Basically it is being touted as a Geographic Population Structure (GPS) tool, created by Dr Eran Elhaik from the University of Sheffield's Department of Animal and Plant Sciences and Dr Tatiana Tatarinova from the University of Southern California, which can locate your actual ancestor's home from 1,000 years ago.

According to the creators "What we have discovered here at the University of Sheffield is a way to find not where you were born – as you have that information on your passport – but where your DNA was formed up to 1,000 years ago by modeling these admixture processes."

That sounded fascinating but I was somewhat sceptical. How can a GPS tool (or any tool for that matter) take all your ancestral lines as shown by your DNA, and come up with ONE "ancestral village" of origin? As my good friend Jennifer Zinck mentioned, that's akin to taking the average of all your ancestors instead of the sum.

Prosapia Genetics Website

To help people find their roots, the researchers  developed a site called  Prosapia Genetics to make this DNA tracking available to the public. They claim that “Anyone who has had their DNA genotyped (an estimated one million people in the USA) can upload their results and use GPS to find their ancestral home."

The site indicates that it is as "easy as 1, 2, 3" Basically you either purchase their DNA kit or you pay for a GPS map and upload your raw data file from a DNA company where you have already tested. Then you view a GPS map showing your ancestral home.

I had to try it. It looked like fun and I was curious as to whether or not my skepticism was well-founded or I was being too critical.  I decided to go with my brother's DNA instead of mine. Once you decided to upload your DNA you pay for the GPS map. There are 3 choices ranging from $29.99 (U.S.) to $42.99. I decided to go with the Super Test at $42.99 because it used the most reference populations. According to the online FAQ, the more reference populations used, the more accurate the result (which is only common sense).

The Map of My Ancestral Home?

After uploading my DNA data it only took about an hour before I got an email from Prosapia Genetics stating his map was ready. To my surprise all it showed was one red marker in a wooded area in Yorkshire England near Driffield. This was supposedly his "ancestral home". 

My mother's lineage is solidly British from Kent England until the 1600s except for one family - the Stead family, who left Yorkshire in the mid 1700s for Kent. Okay at least we do have a known Yorkshire connection. But it's only ONE family out of hundreds of other ancestors.

My father's lineage is Ireland, Holland, Germany, Native American, a bit of French, a smattering of England from Cheshire and Suffolk. I have researched these lines back to the 1600s and there is not a trace of any ancestor from Yorkshire.

There may indeed be other Yorkshire ancestors in our lineage. But Prosapia's result is NOT indicative of my "ancestral home"! That is because there is not just one ancestral home but many when we look at all our ancestors. To my mind the map should have shown me several markers in different countries - in Ireland, in Holland, in Germany, in France, and so on.  I hoped it would show me some specific locations in countries that showed on my Ethnicity results from the different DNA companies I had tested with.

I wish the creators had been more precise and accurate in their wording. The Prosapia Genetics website states "Our first tool, GPS, will tell you where your DNA was forged" but that is inacurate and misleading. It would be more accurate if it said "Our first tool, GPS, will tell you where ONE PORTION OF your DNA was forged" 


Please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying this is a scam. I'm not trashing the company. I am saying that I think it's incorrect and even misleading to claim that their technology can find an individual's "ancestral home".  I am saying I paid a lot of money for very little. I'm saying I was extremely disappointed in the resulting map.

I would love to hear from any of my readers who obtained a GPS map using Prosapia Genetics. What was your opinion?