The GEDmatch PuntDNAL Project (Explained For Beginners)

PuntDNAL is one of the more recent projects on GEDmatch. The project creator was able to use archaic and modern DNA samples that weren’t available to other projects.

The PuntDNAL calculators explore ancient heritage particularly for Southeast Asians and non-West Europeans. There are also two calculators with a focus on African heritage.

Origins Of The GEDmatch PuntDNAL Project

The PuntDNAL project was created by Abdullahi Warsame.

Warsame modified the software and methods of Dodecad, the original admixture project. But he had a particular admiration for the Eurogenes calculators.

Unlike the other projects, there isn’t a website for the project. But Warsame answered questions about his calculators on the Anthrogenica forum, where he uses the name PuntDNALking.

PuntDNAL K10 Ancient

The aim of the PuntDNAL K10 ancient calculator was to separate the ancient Hunter Gather components of your admixture from that of the Early Farmers.

Here is an explanation of the abbreviations used in this project. 

  • ENF: Early Neolithic Farmer
  • CHG: Caucasus Hunter Gatherer
  • WHG: Western Hunter Gatherer
  • ASI: Ancient South Indian

Before you look too closely at this calculator, I’m going to advise you to skip on to the next one. The reason is that Warsame created a second version of the K10 Ancient calculator. He believed that this corrected some of the odd results that people reported.

Unfortunately, GEDmatch has the older version. Although Warsame sent them the updated calculator, the GEDmatch team didn’t replace what is on their website.

However, the K12 Ancient calculator within this project covers similar ground. Before I get to it, I’ll give a quick (and simplistic) recap of what we mean by Hunter Gatherers and Early Farmers. You can skip the next section if you’re familiar with the topic.

Hunter Gatherers and Early Farmers

The era of interest here is the 7th Millenium BC, which is seven thousand years BC to 6001 BC.

At some point in that millennium, we assume that humans in Europe are in scattered groups of Hunter Gatherer. Were these groups descended from one population or several distinct populations? That is still a matter of academic debate.

Farming was introduced to southeastern Europe In the mid-7th Millenium BC. The farmers migrated via Anatolia, the meeting point of Europe and Asia in what is now Turkey.

There is also debate as to whether a single population of farmers arrived, or whether waves came through northwestern Anatolia into southeast Europe. We do know that farmers spread through the rest of Europe.

How much mixing when on between the Farmers and the Hunter Gatherers? Also a matter for debate. And this is partly what the PuntDNAL project is trying to extrapolate.

PuntDNAL K12 Ancient

The PuntDNAL K12 Ancient calculator uses archaic DNA samples from human remains discovered at archaeological digs and other sites.

The Reich Lab at Harvard published data about many such ancient DNA samples as public studies. The project creator used data from the Reich Lab, along with public data from the Estonian Biocentre, and what he referred to as his “personal collection”.

There are plenty of archaic DNA samples that have been uploaded to GEDmatch over the years. I assume that Warsame is referring to public sources like GEDmatch, and he hasn’t actually been swabbing bones at ancient sites!

By the way, if you’re interested in running direct comparisons of your DNA against these ancient samples, check out our article on researching your archaic DNA on GEDmatch.

Hunter Gatherer and Early Farmer Populations

Below are the four populations representing Hunter Gatherer and Neolithic Farmer. You’ve probably guessed that HG and NF are the respective abbreviations. The advantage that this calculator has over the Eurogenes Hunter Gather calculator is that Warsame could use the recent DNA discoveries from the Caucasus.

  • European_HG
  • Caucasus_HG
  • Anatolian_NF
  • South_African_HG

Warsame described the “European_HG” in a forum as a bucket for the DNA samples found in Europe.

The European hunter-gatherer component is a newer component that is composed of all three European hunter-gatherers, such as Western hunter-gatherer, Eastern hunter-gatherer, and Scandinavian hunter-gatherer.”

Project Creator

It’s always useful to remember that these projects follow the interests of their creators. I think Warsame is more interested in how the Caucasus and Anatolian populations measure up.

It’s also useful to see other people’s results, such as in this forum thread. Unfortunately, posters don’t always describe their known heritage. But there are a few who describe their background.

Before I discuss the other calculators in this project, the next sections review how to use the project spreadsheet and Oracle to interpret your results.

The GEDmatch PuntDNAL Spreadsheet And Oracle

The K12 calculator uses twelve populations to analyze your DNA. Here is the list:

European_HGCaucasus_HGAnatolian_NFSouth_African_HG
AmerindianEast_AsianSouth_AsianNear_East
SiberianOceanianBeringianSub-Saharan

It’s important to remember that the project creators assign the names to the broad categories. They may or may not correspond to the modern usage of similar terms.

Suppose you want to know a bit more about the Caucasus_HG, or any other population within a calculator. This is what the “Spreadsheet” button is for. You’ll see it above your admixture breakdown.

Every Oracle spreadsheet shows the reference data used by the specific calculator. The spreadsheet has nothing to do with your DNA kit. All GEDmatch users see the same reference data.

We have a tutorial that goes into detail on using the Oracle spreadsheet.

The tutorial works with the Dodecad project, but the concepts apply to all the spreadsheets.

A PuntDNAL Example

I’ll walk through a PuntDNAL example here, specifically the Caucasus_HG population in the K12 ancient calculator.

It’s theseventh population listed across the top row of the PuntDNAL spreadsheet. You then run your eye down the groups on the left, looking for the higher percentages.

Our tutorial shows you how to copy the display to an external spreadsheet, like Excel, which makes it easier to review the data. Using Excel, I can put a filter on the column to rows with a percentage of above 50%.

The spreadsheet shows me that only two rows score above 50. Kotias_kide_KK is at 87.5 and Satsurblia_SATP scores at 98%. Are you no more the wiser? Neither was I at first glance. But a quick internet search (take out the underscores) leads me to the source.

Kotias_kide_KK refers to ancient human remains found in the Kotias Klde cave near the village of Sveri in western Georgia. The other group refers to ancient remains found in the Satsurblia cave, also in Georgia.

Interpreting Your GEDmatch PuntDNAL Oracle Results

The PuntDNAL projects have both the Oracle and Oracle-4 utilities.

If you haven’t used them before, we have a tutorial on using the GEDmatch Oracles.

PuntDNAL K12 Modern

The K12 Modern calculator has the same populations as the K12 Ancient version. So, what’s the difference between them?

The difference is that the former uses archaic DNA samples while the latter uses samples from people living within the last few decades. This can be seen when you open the K12 Modern spreadsheet.

You’ll see group names like “BedouinA”, “BedouinB”, and “Belgian”.

One criticism I have of this project is that the spreadsheet isn’t more specific about the sourced DNA. The Dodecad spreadsheet clearly shows if the DNA group comes from project volunteers or an academic genome study. In the latter case, the study is usually named.

Dodecad also has a dedicated website where you can usually find how many DNA samples are in each group. With PuntDNAL, the number of samples isn’t available. I suspect that it could be single samples for some groups.

In my case, the admixture percentage breakdown is identical for both ancient and modern calculators. But the Oracle results of course are different. Both K12 calculators don’t seem to do well with my mixed heritage. You may get better results.

It can be useful to see other people’s results, especially when they provide their known heritage. Here is a thread with plenty of examples. The early posts refer to the Oracles not working yet, but that problem was soon rectified.

PuntDNAL K13 Global

The K13 Global calculator was added to GEDmatch in 2017, which makes it one of the most recent. It was created due to a new (2016) academic study of Southeast Asian heritage.

The project creator said:

[the study] inspired me to create a calculator that included a Southeast Asian component and give my Southeast and Northeast Asian people a more accurate calculator for their ancestry.

Project creator

There are 13 populations in this calculator, with the new one being “SE_Asia”. The spreadsheet will show you that the new population is highest for the Murut and Igorot DNA clusters.

Here is a lengthy forum thread where people post their results for this calculator.

PuntDNAL K15

The K15 calculator has a larger number of African populations than most other calculators on GEDmatch. Five of the fifteen populations represent the African continent.

  • Omo River
  • White Nile River
  • Southern Africa
  • Western Africa
  • Horn Of Africa

As there isn’t a West European component, my Irish heritage gets lumped into Northeast European and Mediterranean. When I check the Spreadsheet, I see that the same thing happens to English or Scottish heritage.

I can say that the Oracle mixed-mode results for my African heritage are reasonable.

This forum thread has people posting their results. Unfortunately (for me), there aren’t many people of African heritage popping up on the thread.

PuntDNAL K8 African

This calculator has seven African populations and one catch-all population for everywhere else.

My heritage is half Irish and half East African. You can see that nearly half of my admixture is lumped into “Western Semitic” (the light green pie at the top). The spread across the African populations is reasonable.

For me, the Oracle results are not so reasonable. I assume that my mixed heritage is throwing a spanner into the works.

There’s an interesting thread on Anthrogenica which was started by someone of solely Central-East African heritage.

I’ve written about some other project calculators that focus on African heritage. There’s the Dodecad Africa9, and the MDLP K23b calculator. There’s also the GEDmatch Ethiohelix project which is solely for African ancestry.

More GEDmatch Project Calculators

We have articles on each of the GEDmatch projects. Here are the links:

PuntDNAL And The Calculator Effect

The GEDmatch calculators are based on software and methods devised for the Dodecad project by Dienekes Pontikos.

The Eurogenes project creator, Davidski, believed there was an underlying flaw with the Dodecad methods. He referred to this as the “Calculator Effect”. The problem he identified was that the original calculators would only work well for reference samples within each project. In other words, they’d be useless for the rest of us!

Davidski modified his own calculators and claimed that every other project that didn’t do similar would be incorrect.

Dienekes of Dodecad rejected these arguments. He claimed that any calculator based on Eurogenes would be incorrect. The PuntDNAL calculators were modeled after Eurogenes.

With each calling the other an imposter, only double-spiderman can sum up the situation.

spiderman pointing at spiderman

The take-away is…don’t take any results too seriously.

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