Polynesia category – Ancestry.com (part 2)

Last December I blogged an entry entitled Polynesia Category – Ancestry.com.  It was about their new Pacific Islander category and how I noticed Filipinos had been coming up with that category as well.  I have been noticing other people of mainly Southeast Asian ancestry having small percentages of Polynesia in their ancestry composition.

A Taiwanese aboriginal would have about the same amount as Filipinos, ranging around 25% – 29%.  A friend that I know whose mother is a Taiwanese aboriginal and he got DNA tested came up with 13% Polynesia and 37% Asia East.  That is nearly identical to what half Filipinos would get.  A Taiwanese person who has Fujian ties centuries ago and is not a Taiwanese aboriginal showed up having 8% Polynesia and 92% Asia East.  Another friend whose mother is from the Moluccas (Indonesia) and tested himself came up with 19% Melanesia, 12% Polynesia and 17% Asia East.  I have had three Chinese people who got tested with Ancestry.com and told me that they also had Polynesia show up within the 10% – 11% range.

All of these are the results of picking up that Southeast Asian component that exists for these people including Polynesians, of which makes up about 80% of their genome.  A few weeks ago I spoke to Ross E. Curtis, Ph.D., a computational biologist, specializing in genetics and visual analytics, and has been with Ancestry.com since 2012.  I informed him of the small sampling size that they had, just 18 samples (see Polynesia Category – Ancestry.com) and the problem that provided.  He was not too familiar with the details behind, mentioned a colleague that helped to put that category together but was unable to provide any real insight into that specific category.  So whatever I am learning about this comes from actual testees and especially those who are not of Polynesian ancestry.

My mother finally did test with Ancestry.com back in March when I made an emergency trip to Wai’anae, O’ahu, Hawai’i and had my mother retake that test since it got rejected.  I had predicted that she would basically show up as 80% Polynesia and 20% European, but this is her actual results.Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 7.33.11 AM


It is as almost that Ancestry tends to give us the lowest possible amount of European.  I got 8% while my mother got 11%.  And just as it did with FTDNA’s myOrigins, it gave my mother a bit more  Scandinavian.  Actually with myOrigins my mother gets 19% while I show 11% Scandinavia.

We will probably see more people of Southeast Asian origin come up with the Pacific Islander/Polynesia/Melanesia category as a proxy for Southeast Asian as more get tested.

No surprise however when I looked at her matches, a lot of close 2nd – 3rd cousin matches.

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.45.00 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 3.45.11 PM


My mother has three 1st – 2nd cousin matches, Extremely High confidence.  But for the 2nd – 3rd cousin range, she has sixty-seven matches, Extremely High confidence and a total of two-hundred sixty-seven matches for 3rd – 4th cousins, all Extremely High confidence as well.  Others not familiar with Polynesian endogamy, or endogamy in general insisted that these close matches have to be actual close matches.

I managed to match two of my mother’s 2nd – 3rd cousin matches on GEDmatch.com.  Assuming that the matches are listed in order of closest to the least closest, these are how the two matches up with my mother.

The 7th 2nd – 3rd cousin match:
510cM – total shared
26.9cM – largest segment

The 40th 2nd – 3rd cousin match (out of 67):
331.9cM – total shared
22.2cM – largest segment

These are one of the few larger segment matches that she has while most rarely go up to 15cM.  Something common with endogamous groups.  Only uploading to GEDmatch can it be clear if the 2nd – 3rd cousin matches are real 2nd – 3rd cousin matches, or an endogamous ones that has numerous segments rarely going higher than 15cM for the largest segment.  Other than that, any Polynesian testing at Ancestry cannot assume that the 1st – 2nd or 2nd – 3rd cousin matches are actually that close as estimated.

5 thoughts on “Polynesia category – Ancestry.com (part 2)

  1. I am first generation Chinese and we just got our ancestrydna results and we also got 88% East Asian and 12% Polynesian. We can track my moms side of family for several hundred years but my dad’s history isn’t as clear. Is this just an error or should I embrace my supposed Polynesian roots? Does anyone know how ancestrydna got the 12%?


    • Hi Susie. Chinese are getting some Polynesia when they test at Ancestry in the range of 10% – 12%. Vietnamese are getting a bit more of that sometimes while Filipinos get about 30%. It is because Ancestry has no Southeast Asian category but Polynesians’ genome consist of 70% Southeast Asian. Imagine you have the normal standard size Hershey’s chocolate bar and then they introduced the KING SIZE Hershey’s bar. So nearly every store has both of these sizes then you go to one store that doesn’t have the KING SIZE but the Giant size which is much, much bigger than the KING SIZE. So do you try to fit that Giant Size into the KING SIZE since it’s large? It is after all much larger than the standard size. That is what Ancestry did, they created their own category and now people who would normally be classified under one category is coming up differently. I believe if you were to transfer your raw data over to FTDNA you would come up with 88% Northeast Asia and about 12% Southeast Asia. FTDNA has those 2 categories for their East Asia category.


  2. I am african american but when I took the ancestry dna test it showed I has 1% Pacific Islander which breaks down to <1% Polynesian and <1% Melanesian. I also have 1% Asia Central and <1% West Asia (Caucasus) just to name a few. Does this mean I have/had Hawaiian ancestry (ancestors)?


    • Usually no. In many cases, people will get less than 2% of something that is considered to be statistical noise. But in your case being African American, if you have known ties to the New York, New Jersey or Virginia areas where in the 1700s they had slave ships coming from Madagascar, then this may be the reason why Ancestry’s “Polynesia” category which would cause those with actual Southeast Asian background to come up. But you’d have to go back several generations to see or find someone in the older generation to test. And I would have them either test with a company like 23andme (too expensive) or FTDNA that actually has a “Southeast Asia” category, or use GEDmatch to see the different SOUTHEAST ASIAN categories to determine possibly how long ago did your Malagasy ancestor lived.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Ancestry updates their ethnicity yet again | Polynesian DNA

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