Frequently Asked Questions

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GPS Origins® Ancestry

Do you share or sell my private DNA information?

Customers trust us with their most sensitive genetic information—and we take that trust seriously. DNA results and personally-identifiable information are kept completely confidential and are not sold to or shared with a third party (except in connection with a merger/sale of our company), unless we are legally compelled to do so. We may use aggregate anonymous data (information that cannot be traced back to a specific individual) for research and marketing purposes and to improve our services. Respecting our customers’ privacy is at the heart of what we do.

See our Privacy Policy

What is included in the GPS Origins kit?
Your test kit includes an order form, instruction manual, four (4) buccal (cheek) swabs, a DNA Sample envelope and a bar-coded return envelope.
What is the GPS Origins DNA test for ancestry?
GPS Origins test allows you to trace your DNA back around 1,000 years, or more, to the place where your unique DNA signature began. The test uses 41 global gene pools to calculate the genetic signature of your autosomal DNA. For example: Fennoscandia 19%, Southern France 14%, Orkney Islands 20%, and so on. Next, it compares your unique DNA signature to 1,000+ populations all over the world (who we know have lived in the same location for a substantial period) to locate where your personal DNA signature began. In some cases, GPS Origins traces your DNA to the village or town level. Finally, it calculates two genetic lineages by tracing the migration routes of your DNA, with pinpoints showing the last three places where your DNA underwent significant changes. The final pinpoint is time-stamped.
How does the GPS Origins DNA test for ancestry work?
The test looks at the genetic composition of your DNA—your DNA signature—and compares it to a database of over 10,000 signatures from 1,000+ populations with known geographic locations to identify the place where it began about 1,000 years ago. We have identified 41 gene pools around the world. Each human population is made up of a mixture of these gene pools. In the distant past, individual migrations were rare. Genetic mixing tended to occur when large groups of people moved from one area to another, through invasion or mass migration. As the incoming gene pool mixed with the local one, a new genetic signature was created across the whole population. The GPS Origins test assumes that your DNA signature is unique to you but shares many characteristics with the populations or tribes from which it originated. By comparing your DNA to the signature mixes within different populations, GPS Origins can pinpoint the origin of your DNA. The algorithm works out the differences, or genetic ‘distance’ between your DNA and the DNA population signatures in our database, and converts them to geographic distances. Then, like a car satellite navigation system, it uses the distances to calculate the coordinates of your DNA origin, which marks the spot where your DNA most recently changed at the population level. It occurs when two different populations came together and created your DNA signature. Using a similar method, GPS Origins then works backward to find two more points and plots the journey to where your DNA was mixed. It repeats this calculation for each element of your parental DNA.
What does the GPS Origins report include?

Your report presents mixture proportions from 41 possible gene pools that cover the whole world as well as the history of the primary gene pools. Your report also shows the geographical origins of your DNA, which could be a country or as close to the nearest town. Your DNA signature was created when two different population groups mixed and created a new genetic signature—the one that you ultimately inherited.

You also see two migration routes for your DNA—one for each side of your family—back to where it came from, which may originate up to 10,000 years ago. Finally, GPS Origins dates the age of your DNA signature corresponding to when it last underwent a substantial change at the population level.

GPS Origins is a great tool to help you research your family tree!

How does this test differ from other DNA tests for ancestry?

Other DNA tests for ancestry provide a limited ethnic composition at a regional or country level. For example, they might indicate 33% East Asian, 40% sub-Saharan African and 27% European.

GPS Origins goes beyond these broad ethnic classifications to identify your ancestral origins to a precise geographic location using an unprecedented number of gene pools and reference populations.

What kind of technology does this ancestry test use?

This is an Autosomal DNA test, also known as a SNP (pronounced ‘snip’) test. It extracts markers from your Y-Chromosome DNA, X-Chromosome DNA and Mitochondrial DNA.

There are four types of DNA:

  • Y-DNA, which only occurs on the Y-chromosome, is passed down from father to son through the generations, and is only inherited by males.
  • X-DNA, which only occurs on the X-chromosome, is inherited by women from both parents, and by men from the mother.
  • Mitochondrial DNA (also known as mitochondria or mtDNA) is passed down through the maternal line, and is inherited by sons and daughters, but only passed on by females. It is the least changeable type of DNA, found outside the cell nucleus, not on a chromosome.
  • Autosomal DNA can be inherited from hundreds of thousands of your ancestors through the ages. Autosomal DNA can be found in 22 chromosomes, and provides 90% of your DNA.

This test examines nearly 80,000 of your autosomal markers (SNPs) and compares them with the distinctive mutations in 41 gene pools across 1,000+ reference populations. This pinpoints the places and times where your DNA last changed.

How accurate is the test?

The level of accuracy depends on your family history. If your parents are from the same place and share relatively homogeneous gene pools, the test can trace both their DNA signatures to their country of origin 81% of the time. GPS Origins correctly predicts at least one parent to the correct country of origin 96% of the time. If both your parents are unmixed, GPS Origins can predict migration pinpoints to the correct country 90% of the time.

In a study of people from across the world, the migration routes generated from the GPS Origins algorithm predicted continental origins with 98% accuracy, assigned 83% of the individuals to their country of origin, and, where applicable, 66% of them to their regional locations.

If your ancestors were from Western Europe  and your parents came from the same region, not moving far from the place they came from, the test will place your DNA signature within 50 miles of its true origin, and often closer.

Your results show the origin as a pinpoint on a map. Any margin of error appears as a circle around the point. the smaller the circle, the more accurate the result. The accuracy also depends on the size of the reference population in a given area; the larger the reference group, the more accurate the results.

Note that the results do not necessarily predict your residential address, but rather, the broader origin of your DNA’s signature, showing the last three (3) places where the signature was significantly modified.

If I already did a DNA test, why should I order GPS Origins?

The GPS Origins DNA test includes many unique markers that cannot be found in other commercial tests.

Will GPS Origins tell me where my ancestors originated?

GPS Origins ancestry test does not report the geographic origins of individual ancestors, but the geographical origin of your DNA. You can be certain that some of your ancestors came from these places within the period indicated.

How does the GPS Origins DNA test help me with my family history?

Discovering your genetic origin will help you answer the question of where you are from beyond the written record of your family history. It can help you open up further avenues of research and you can learn more about the lives of your ancestors at the point in history when your DNA began.

Your ‘ancestral family’ is much larger than your immediate family and you may be able to find out much more about their lives and culture with GPS Origins.

Because this ancestry testing provides an accurate location, you can discover more about the place where your distant ancestors originated. This test helps you use historical and archaeological research to find out about the time and conditions in which your distant ancestors lived.

Can I use my GPS Origins test results to match with possible relatives?

GPS Origins shows the origin of your DNA and those of users who choose to share it. These results are indicative of tribal DNA membership, but not necessarily direct familial relationships.

What if my GPS Origins report doesn’t agree with my family history?

In the case that one of your parents is of mixed origins because your grandparents are from two different places (e.g., England and Greece), GPS Origins migration lines for that parent would be traced along the middle migration paths of your grandparents (e.g., Hungary). This could be revealed via a larger circle (greater radius) around a stopping point, reflecting higher uncertainty in this area. GPS Origins is the story of your DNA, not necessarily of people. Your (and their) DNA may indeed have come from a region that no one remembers existed.

Why would my test results be different from my siblings’?

GPS Origins reports the results for two lineages (your parents) which may indicate your parental origins that were inherited from your maternal and paternal grandparents, and so on down the maternal and paternal line.

If your grandparents and parents are of mixed ancestry, the test identifies the most dominant origins, which may differ between siblings because they inherited different genetic material from each parent.

For example, imagine that your parents have hazel and brown eyes. You and your sibling(s) may have blue, hazel, or brown eyes because each one of you inherited a different trait from each parent.

So which sibling’s GPS Origins results are the most correct? They all are correct because each tells a story of different ancestral traits from your family. Despite coming from the same parents, the genetic traits of you and your sibling(s) may show the different path your ancestors have chosen. Combining sibling results together would yield your complete family story. The only siblings with the same result would be identical twins because they have identical DNA.

What is a Gene Pool?

A Gene Pool, also referred to as Ancestral Origin, is the collective set of genetic information within a distinct region where populations had limited interactions with populations from outside the group for up to about 20,000 or 60,000 years. So far, 41 human gene pools around the world have been identified with each human population made up of a mixture of several such gene pools. In the distant past, genetic mixing tended to occur when large groups of people moved from one area to another, through invasion or mass migration. The GPS Origins test pinpoints the origin of your DNA by comparing it to the signature mixtures in different populations. Your personalized report shows the percentages of DNA you inherited and provides you with the history of the top three Gene Pools.

View Gene Pool References

What is a Reference Population?

Also referred to as a Study Base, a reference population is a defined, representative sample of individuals during a specific time range used to establish norms for reference ranges. GPS Origins uses 1,000+ reference populations in its database when calculating your results. This large number of reference populations, obtained from publicly referenced datasets, along with the 41 gene pools helps deliver the accuracy in your GPS Origins results.

View Reference Populations

What is a Migration Pattern?

A Migration Pattern is the path your DNA traveled over the past 2,000-4,000 years. The GPS Origins test traces your migration route back to where it originated and dates the age of your DNA signature. The test provides this information for both your parental lineages, indicating where your DNA began. Your results are detailed in a report that reveals a vibrant picture of where and how your ancestors lived, and the conditions that led them to migrate. It also contains maps illustrating the two most important migration journeys and describes how your ancestors’ circumstances changed as they crossed continents to find better lives. Note: The GPS Origins test is an Autosomal (SNP) test that is not gender specific. Although both Migration Patterns represent your Maternal and Paternal DNA route, we cannot differentiate which route is specifically your parents’ individual route at this time.

What are the circles surrounding the pinpoints on my map and why are they different sizes?

The circle surrounding each data point represents a margin of error (or range). The smaller the circle, the smaller the percentage of error. 

What if a pinpoint on my map sits over a body of water?

This test calculates positions according to your DNA, gene pools, and over 862 reference populations. Occasionally, your genetic location may reside over a pond or river, but don’t be alarmed, it doesn’t mean your DNA has originated in the water but rather that nowadays the river is running very close to the region where your DNA originated. Moreover, since our test establishes a location according to genetic proximity of your DNA and its similarities to various reference populations – you will also see a circle surrounding your data point, which represents a margin of error (or range) where your DNA may have formed.

How can I tell which migration route corresponds to my paternal line and which corresponds to my maternal line?

Because this test is autosomal, paternal and maternal lines cannot be distinguished by name. But you can be sure one is your maternal line and one is your paternal line. Most of our customers are able to deduce which is which based on knowledge of their own family histories.

Is my raw-data file be available? How do I retrieve it?

Yes, your GPS Origins DNA raw data file is available to you! To download, log in and go to My Account. You will see three (3) tabs in My AccountOrders, Results and Account Details. Simply click on Results and locate your test  in your results listings. In the status column, if your results are ready, you will see a link that says My Results and also a link that says Download Data. When you click the Download Data link, your download will begin.

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