LivingDNA Review: The Best DNA Test in India that Lets you Trace your Ancestry to Almost 14,000 Years Back in Time


    DNA ancestry tests are one of the more recent intricacies offered by modern science and biology. That doesn’t mean that the industry is still in its infancy, however. DNA testing companies these days have thorough tests to determine your ancestry dating up to 10,000 years in the past, with a fairly accurate guess of the lineage of the last 5-10 generations. We’ve already reviewed MyHeritageDNA which is a basic autosomal test and when it comes to detail leaves a lot to be desired. This time we went with Living DNA that provides all three tests: autosomal, yDNA and mtDNA in one package for a total price of $99. It ships globally via post and unlike its competitors also comes with a prepaid return parcel.

    DNA tests: Autosomal, yDNA and mtDNA

    There are mainly three types of DNA test: Autosomal, YDNA and mtDNA. Y-DNA tests compare the chromosomes in the 23rd pair (male-only). Autosomal DNA tests look at the rest of the 22 pairs of chromosomes called the autosomes. And lastly, mtDNA tests consider a tiny snippet of DNA extracted from the mitochondria. For more info on these tests, visit this page.

    Most companies rely on Autosomal DNA testing which can be used to track your ancestors who lived some 500-1000 years in the past. These include MyHeritageDNA, AncestryDNA, etc. Some other companies like 23andMe DNA, FamilyTreeDNA, and LivingDNA also offer more complex Y-DNA and Mitochondrial DNA tests, but only a few of them have global coverage. Luckily for us, LivingDNA does and you don’t have to pay a single penny for return shipping.

    When looking for a DNA test kit, other than the price there are two things you need to keep in mind. Firstly, the accuracy of a company’s tests will depend directly on its database count. The higher the figure, the more accurate the results. Secondly, LivingDNA and some other some DNA testing companies offer multiple kinds of DNA tests as a combined package for a rather reliable price, so it’s always better to check them first before your splurge, as that way you can learn a lot more about your descend than the regular Autosomal DNA test.

    Kit Contents

    Within the DNA kit, you’ll find the following:

    • DNA Swab and Tube
    • Instructions
    • Return envelop

    Taking a DNA sample is pretty straightforward. LivingDNA’s 2-in-1 swab and tube container makes it even more convenient. Unlike MyHeritageDNA’s swabs, there is no need to twist and dip multiple q-tips into vials. There’s just one multi-purpose swab-vial that you need to rub against the insides of your cheeks a few times and voila, you’re done!

    Be sure not to be too firm, or you might include some blood in the sample, effectively ruining it. After taking the sample, close the vial (with a clicky sound) and paste the bar-code on it. Then enclose it in the envelope and off to the post office.

    You’re not required to pay any postage and your country’s registered postal service should take care of the return. Before you send it back, make sure to take a snapshot of the specimen bag as it contains the code needed to activate your DNA kit online and view the results when it’s time.

    DNA Results: What Makes You, You

    It takes approximately 2-3 months for the results to arrive after they reach the lab in Europe. Comparatively, MyHeritageDNA took just a month but then again their results weren’t that accurate and on top of that didn’t really say a lot. LivingDNA’s results are way more detailed, with three tabs:

    Autosomal DNA Ancestry: Here you’re going to find your ancestry tracked via 22 chromosomes, and gives a fairly accurate reading of up to 10 generations. LivingDNA’s results contain two main sections in this section, namely the family ancestry map and a rough estimate of your ancestry through history. Let’s dig in, shall we:

    Your Ancestry Through History

    The official documentation says that this map is designed to show the geographical location and the concentration of your common ancestors’ descendants from that point in history. Basically, it’s a breakdown of where your relatives lived as time passed by. It goes back as far as 60-80K years, but of course, there’s a lot of guess-work involved when you are comparing your DNA with people from the Ice Age.

    Family Ancestry Map

    Unlike most DNA testing companies, LivingDNA goes a step ahead and provides sub-divisions in the ethnicity map. You get three versions: Complete, standard and cautious. As per the company’s founder, David Nicholson:

    The Cautious view results show the ancestry estimations in a more conservative way, by grouping smaller regions into larger shapes to indicate that if we are being ‘cautious’, we can say that the original assignments from the Complete view may be covering ancestry from a border region.

    For example, in the standard view, I got, Asia South (77%), South-West China (3%) and Near East (19.7%). However, in the cautious view, I got five regions: 56% South Central Asia, 35% South-Asia, 6% Middle East and 3% South East Asia-related ancestry.

    Cautious is more detailed

    Furthermore, the Central Asian ancestry which forms the majority of the percentage is divided into three ethnicities: Kurdish, Persian/Iranian and Pashtu. There’s a detailed explanation of each population given alongside which makes for an interesting read and helps you join the dots.

    There’s a breakdown of the main populations into sub-regions but these aren’t 100% accurate and may vary as many of them are similar to each other, thereby the cautious estimate.


    Motherline and Fatherline:

    For both the motherline as well as the fatherline (if you’re a guy) tabs, you get four well-explained sections:

    Phylogenetic Tree

    The phylogenetic tree shows your position within the mtDNA evolutionary tree of life. At the top of the tree is the root group that every living person today can trace their ancestry to.

    As you work your way down the tree, different people take different branches. Major groups are considered haplogroups and at the very last level, we have my subtype- C4.

    Migration Map

    The migration map shows the path your ancient ancestors traced as they spread out across the globe. The start of the journey is taken from a point in history when it’s theorized that we all shared the same mtDNA and each color change represents a variation in that mtDNA. This gave rise to the different Maternal Haplogroups we have today.

    Coverage Map

    The motherline haplogroup is a collection of related family lines you are connected to via your mtDNA. It is a direct female line you can trace back to your initial origins. All the people in one haplogroup share one common ancient ancestor. For example, I learned that my mother’s relatives were closely related to Central Russian populations, especially these folks.

    Lastly Some History

    Both the motherline and fatherline tabs include a history section that explains your haplogroup and the migration of your ancestors through the course of history. In my case, I learned that my ancestors were hunter-gatherer groups settling in Beringia between 15,000 to 25,000 years ago.

    Conclusion: One of the Best DNA Kits Out There

    I was actually quite impressed by the sheer amount of detail that LivingDNA provides with its results: history, haplogroups, trees and of course the ethnicity map. On top of this, you get this for just $99. There’s only one flaw, namely, LD can’t help you find DNA matches within its database…just yet (it’s in beta stage). However, fret not you can always use GEDmatch to find possible, long-lost cousins (it’s free).

    Further Reading:

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