National Geographic Ancestry Test Review - UPDATED Feb 2018
Since its inception in 2005, National Geographic’s Genographic Project has utilized advanced DNA testing in their work with indigenous communities to answer cornerstone questions behind human origins and how we populated our planet.
More than 800,000 participants in over 140 countries of the world helped shine a new light on our past as a species. Genographic is a real-time research project of sorts, allowing you to learn more about your past than you ever thought possible. Our review of the National Geographic Ancestry Test will cover all the intricacies of their ancestry exploration and answer one question to rule them all: whether the benefits outweigh the price tag.
How The National Geographic Ancestry Test Works
For their ancestry testing project, National Geographic partnered with Helix, a DNA-testing company associated with high-impact names like Mayo Clinic, Duke University, GoodStart Genetics, Mount Sinai, and others.
Their approach follows the tried and true direct-to-customer model, including the following segments:
- DNA testing kit online order – Note that the order should be placed through Helix’s website, not National Geographic’s.
- Registration and sample collection – After your kit arrives, you can collect your DNA sample at home. The kit uses buccal swabs instead of saliva and other viable specimens. Also, note that you must register both with National Geographic and Helix in order to proceed forward with the testing. It’s an unnecessary hassle in our opinion, as they could obviously connect their databases for Genographic customers.
- Sending your DNA sample back for testing – Once your DNA specimen is secured within the provided bag, you can simply mail it to the specified address via the pre-paid postage yellow box. This only applies to orders within the US. If you’re having the DNA test kit shipped to Canada or other countries, the return postage is not pre-paid.
- Inspecting the results – After the sequencing of your genome is complete, you’ll be able to view your final results on both websites. Note that the results won’t be mailed to you.
Why Choose The National Geographic Ancestry Test
National Geographic is a well-known brand that has been uncovering humanity’s genealogy for over a century. Their partnership with Helix in 2016 (after Family Tree DNA) added a different genetic dimension to the research, making its scope much broader and more accurate.
Some of the strongest highlights include:
- High-quality all-in-one ancestry DNA test
- Over 3,000 markers checked on mitochondrial DNA, 10,000 on the Y-chromosome, and 200,000 across the entire genome
- A look back 200,000 years in the past
- Partnership with Helix, a DNA testing company also associated with numerous high-impact names in the field
- Cutting-edge testing facility
- Next Generation DNA sequencing
- Neanderthal DNA percentages
- Deep ancestry results, including the complete anthropological background of your ancestors
- Regional ancestry breakdown with 60 reference populations
- Historical genius matches
- Diverse genetic resources, gathered through working with over 80,000 indigenous participants
- Knowledgeable user support
The National Geographic Ancestry Test is a significant improvement over the original version of the test. Its providers learned quickly and implemented all the required enhancements, making it a far superior product.
Next Gen version of the test offers the following benefits:
- Utilization of Next Generation Sequencing for improved ancestral results.
- More than double the number of covered regions of the world and 60 reference populations provide more accurate and precise regional ancestry.
- Improved paternal and maternal haplogroup calls, alongside 20 brand new ancestral stories. Haplogroups started forming some 60,000 years ago when we as a species left Africa and began establishing our migration routes.
- Historical Genius Matches is a new feature that can identify your potential genetic relation with some of the best-known geniuses in existence (Nikola Tesla or Benjamin Franklin, for example). This used to be a feature that you had to order separately and pay extra until it was incorporated into Geno 2.0 Next Gen.
- Full access to the ecosystem of Helix’s DNA apps.
- Your ancestral migration patterns 500 years in the past and beyond (starting at 500 years in the past, not 500 years to present day).
- The test explores your autosomal chromosomes, alongside Y-chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA. As we already stated in this National Geographic Ancestry Test review, the number of genetic markers checked is truly impressive, measuring 200,000 across the entire genome for regional and hominid testing, 10,000 for paternal line, and 3,000 for maternal line.
- Neanderthal DNA percentages, showing how much DNA you actually share with your Neanderthal ancestors. This service is not overly common when it comes to DNA testing companies, so we give credit where credit is due.
- You can transfer your results from National Geographic Genographic Project to Family Tree DNA absolutely free of charge. All you have to do is enter your Geno ID code on the official website and Family Tree DNA will compare your raw DNA signature against its database of genetic profiles.
The price of the test is 149.95$ (discounted from 199.95$), which does seem rather high, compared to some other ancestry DNA testing services on the market. The average turnaround time is 6-12 weeks from the moment your sample arrives at their testing laboratory. Each DNA testing kit contains supplies for one person to be tested. One limitation is that you’ll have to send your kit to Helix’s testing facility within 12 months of initial purchase.
The National Geography Ancestry Test still suffers from certain inadequacies, which should definitely be addressed if they want to join the battle for the top of the field. One of those would be the absence of possibility for raw DNA download. The project’s database is relatively modest, so preventing you from testing your results against other databases out there is something that simply has to change. Luckily, National Geographic stated that they’re working on introducing this possibility.
The National Geographic website states that your results will not be mailed to you under any circumstances. Instead, you’ll have to inspect them online. Contrary to that, Helix’s site states that you can expect your final results mailed to you by National Geographic. They should definitely sync their descriptions and avoid unnecessary confusion.
National Geographic is one giant research project, constantly trying to penetrate the very core of human genealogy. This ancestry test is their attempt to answer the most relevant of questions regarding our origin and the phenomenon of humans populating the Earth.
As an active participant in the project, you are put in a unique position to help National Geographic by contributing to their Genographic database. This, in turn, helps their researchers and scientists, working on building a comprehensive map of the earliest stages of our history. Of course, your potential participation is completely optional and it is not a prerequisite for viewing your results.
Privacy And Security
National Geographic is a trusted brand and they have a reputation to uphold. Their security policy is rather strict, which means your data is safe and secure. They will never share your personal information with third parties without your explicit consent. The information we’re talking about includes your contact and payment info, as well as your test results.
On the other hand, National Geographic strongly encourages active participation in their quest to uncover all the mysteries shrouding the human ancestry. If you opt to do so, you should know that they’ll be able to share your DNA findings, keeping you anonymous at all times, of course.
Shipping And Handling
The National Geographic Ancestry Test comes with a shipping fee, on top of the original price of the test. For customers ordering within the US, shipping and handling costs amount to 9.95$ per kit. If you’re shipping your Geno 2.0 to Canada, you will be charged extra 10$ for shipping and handling, plus 9.95$ for the testing kit. Any other country has a shipping and handling fee of 20$, alongside the already mentioned kit price.
The kit is distributed worldwide, just make sure to tick the right button in the order menu.