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DNA Results from Asturias, Spain Add to the Genographic Project Human Family Tree

Genetic results from Asturias, Spain, or Espana Verde (Green Spain), go deeper than the delightful cidre and fabada asturiana. From low hominin ancestry to high numbers of unique European lineages, the Genographic Project sheds new light on the history of Espana Verde. 

by Rachel Bruton

Last year, the Niemeyer Center of Aviles (Asturias) invited the Genographic Project to visit Asturias and celebrate with them the region’s heritage. After a series of Genographic related activities, a group of 100 excited participants lined up to swab with the Geno 2.0 DNA Ancestry Kit, test their DNA, and gain a better understanding of the area’s migratory history. This week, the Genographic Project revealed the interesting findings about the region.

One of the participants was the Aviles Mayoress, Ms. Pilar Varela. She commented how collectively the Asturias results “show how we all can trace our common roots to Africa, yet each one’s path to reach Asturias is somewhat different.”

Ties to all of Europe

Map of Asturias Maternal Ancestry
Map of Asturias’ Maternal Ancestry

Among the 100 people who participated, most (>80%) of their maternal lineages belonged to one of the seven major European haplogroups (branches on the human family tree). Lineages from the Middle East and North Africa were also present, but in smaller numbers (between 5 and 10% each), and one participant had Native American maternal ancestry, not commonly found among the Spanish.

Maternal haplogroup H was the most common branch among participants, accounting for more than a third of lineages. Interestingly, the ancestral haplogroup HV, with ties to early agriculturalists from the Middle East or possibly Europe’s earliest settlers, was found in eleven Asturians present. Overall, the maternal results showed a high frequency of some of Europe’s oldest lineages, a pattern similar to their Basque neighbors, also from northern Spain.

Map of Asturias' Paternal Ancestry
Map of Asturias’ Paternal Ancestry

Haplogroup R1b was the reoccurring lineage for paternal ancestry, accounting for nearly 75% of male participants in this group. R1b is the most common European Y-chromosome branch, and nearly 60% of European men carry this lineage. One interesting finding revealed, however, was that many of the men came from lesser known branches of the R1b, suggesting their exact origin remains a mystery. Among the paternal lineages only one had ties to Europe’s fist modern humans.

Ancient Cousins

A photo of a reconstruction of a Neanderthal woman.
A reconstruction of a Neanderthal female.
Photograph by Joe McNally, National Geographic Daily News

Before modern humans arrived in Iberia about 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals ruled Spain. And although most anthropologists agree that humans and Neanderthals mixed, a point of interest among the participants was the unusually low percentage of Neanderthal in their DNA. The people from Asturias on average carried only 1.5% Neanderthal DNA, compared to the 2.5% average observed among most other modern European groups.

National Geographic’s roots in Asturias go deeper than DNA. In 2006, it was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Communication in 2006 for its efforts to inspire people to care about the planet. To learn more about National Geographic’s Genographic Project and discover your own ancient ancestry, visit www.genographic.com


  1. Rick
    May 15, 8:03 pm

    I would like to know what the DNA profile of a Hungarian would look like. I see Polish and other ethnicity but would like to know what the NDA the typical Hungarian looks like.

  2. Maria
    May 5, 9:39 pm

    The person who show native american probably was born in south america, Colombia, Perú o Ecuador, because we have a lot of this inmigrants that came to Spain a few years ago . Not an ethnic spaniard.

  3. cici13
    New Mexico, USA
    October 4, 2015, 4:38 pm

    The 1% native DNA in this (Asturias, Spain) study doesn’t represent “back migration” in terms of indigenous family migration movement back to the “Old World” (as the map suggests). Rather, the most likely explanation for this 1% native DNA evidence is representation of the European slave trade and slavers capturing indigenous females and human trafficking them across Europe. Speaks volumes to the extent of human slavery across transatlantic Europe 500 years ago! I’m native Haplogroup A2 as well, although I’m fortunate that my ancestors remained rooted here and didn’t suffer slavery like this native woman’s ancestors in this study.

  4. Miguel Vilar
    National Geographic, USA
    March 10, 2015, 12:56 pm

    Thank you for your questions and comments:

    The project is continuosly being updated, and we learn a lot from our participants. In other words, we like to get feedback on the science, your impressions, and our stories. Please email us: (address is on our website) if you have questions or suggestions. To join visit us at http://www.genographic.com

  5. Leoncio Garcia
    Wayne, PA
    February 20, 2015, 1:05 pm

    Although my father was born in La Ordobaga (near Luarca), Asturias, his genetic lineage in my profile ends in central France. Why is that?

  6. Asturcon
    January 29, 2015, 12:11 pm

    The Muslim presence in Asturias was almost nonexistent, as is well known.

    La presencia musulmana en Asturias fue muy reducida como bien se sabe. Si se han documentado con todo como con eso, parece muy poco fiable.

    January 6, 2015, 3:40 pm

    Hace ya unos años me hice el ADN, con el The Genographic Project, y los laboratorios de la Universidad de Arizona.
    Tengo mi KIT y PASSWORD y en la actualidad no he podido entrar en mi web y quiero entrar en contacto con el Proyecto.
    ¿Que debo hacer?

  8. Joseph Falguera
    December 17, 2014, 11:51 am

    Estimado Miguel;

    Donde están los resultados completos de las investigaciones: DNA Results from Asturias.
    Muy atentamente

  9. Joe Smith
    December 16, 2014, 10:40 pm

    I’m sorry Miguel but almost everything Geno 2.0 tells you is wrong. National Geographic needs an update, because they’re several years behind.

    This Y DNA and mtDNA sampling of Spaniards is nothing new, and isn’t discovering anything.

    If you want to know about the ancient origins of Spaniards look here.


    BTW, Geno 2.0 STOP LYING TO THE PUBLIC. This is miss information.

  10. Jay Grossi
    Sacramento, California USA
    December 14, 2014, 7:01 pm

    I really enjoy reading Miguel Vilar’s very informative and interesting articles! The latest one in Spain was also very good.
    I wish the Genographic Project would do DNA testing in Ticino, the Italian speaking canton of Switzerland! I would truly be interested in the results since my grandparents came from that region.

  11. Anonimous
    December 12, 2014, 4:40 am

    This study is totally irrelevant and standards are inadequate. Avilés was a small harbor with people coming from all sides till in the 60’s, there was an enormous growth in population due to the arrival of several large factories to the town, most of the inhabitants, coming almost all from other parts of Spain, mainly Castile, Andalucia and Galicia, and also from northern Portugal. They were called “Korean” just for having a somewhat different physiognomy compared with the local people ( usually darker features) . Therefore I believe that Avilés is the least suitable site for a genetic study of Asturias, absolutely not representative. For instance, even the mayor has a foreign name “Varela” which is Ultra-Galician.

  12. Gregory A.
    December 7, 2014, 7:56 am

    Why do you think that G is Hunter-Gatherer? As far as I know only C and I was ever found in European HG DNA until now. Of course we do not have too much pre-Neolithic DNA at all, so maybe there was G after all, just isn’t found yet, but I still do not understand why did you pick out G as the only definite HG lineage – opposed to everything else found in Asturia. Even if that is true, it needs an explanation.

    (Also technically even finding G in European HG is still not sufficient to prove that a G in Asturia came from then, unless you also show that the particular sub-group was not present in the Middles Easterns.)

  13. Maria Fdez de Pedro
    United States
    December 6, 2014, 8:45 am

    My maternal heritage is also from Asturias but I unfortunately didn’t see anyone with my maternal halpogroup (Uia) which seems to be pretty rare. Oh, well……………..interesting article anyhow.
    🙂 Maria

  14. Michel Ameruoso
    caracas, venezuela
    December 5, 2014, 11:06 pm

    I bought two of your kits 1.0 years ago for my 2 children, but I never use it, is possible yet send the samples ???

  15. Allen Meyer
    December 5, 2014, 7:57 pm

    I, too, was surprised at the rather general information provided by Geno 2.0, especially when I later saw one of the episodes of Finding Your Roots, in which fairly precise locations of one’s genetic background were obtained. Can Geno update the analyses to provide greater detail and specificity?

  16. Susan House
    December 5, 2014, 4:10 pm

    I’ve already participated in the Genome project. Will prior results be updated to see if these areas are included?

  17. khanei k
    USA California
    December 5, 2014, 3:46 pm

    I must say you were right on with my DNA results amazing i always felt and people always said i was greek and middle Eastern and by God that is exactly what I’am even the region is correct to the letter. This is such an exciting journey of my life story.. I must tell you my mom was convinced she was Portuguese and French not only did i not have these two nationalities which i knew i did not look like that lineage neither is my mom and her brother took the DNA test as well and we all came up GREEK…That is a fact,,,so now i tell everyone just because your ancestors came from a particular country means NADA means nothing you don’t know until you get DNA done,,, People went into different countries to eat to escape from wars to make a living and adapted and decided to stay,,, Simple …Thank you for your continued research and especially for making it so exciting doe our own human story to be revealed.

  18. Nena Morton
    Santa Fe, New Mexico USA
    December 5, 2014, 12:53 pm

    Interesting information, my paternal grandparents came Asturias and Galicia. I did the National Geographic DNA program several years ago when it first began.

  19. Vicki
    New York, USA
    December 5, 2014, 12:50 pm

    Is there an academic paper on the Asturias Spain genetic study – or are we stuck with these few sound bytes from a journalist’s blog?

  20. Williams Alvarez
    December 5, 2014, 12:43 pm

    Do it in Guatemala! please! come here!!! we need to know our diversity!

  21. Dan O'Neill
    December 5, 2014, 12:17 pm

    I had the great privilege of spending two weeks among Asturians this past year . Celtic culture seamed everywhere. Bagpipes , clog dance , primitive structures ,ect . And now thru the Genome Project we see our meandering genetic drift toward our individual headwaters …Africa !

  22. Michelle Nicholson
    December 5, 2014, 12:04 pm

    I was very satisfied with the DNA test done by National Geographic. It’s a mtDNA, so it’s not complete; I could only find out where my mother came from. All European women come from Africa (I don’t like the idea but this is what it is…ha, ha). So far, nothing else was discovered to contradict this theory….. but I am sure there is more to find out. I also did another DNA test at ancestry.com…which is about my more recent history. I am disappointed that they don’t know more about my haplogroup H6a1b. What I did I googled it and found out that a high percentage of H6a1b is found in Sweden. But National Geographic did not tell me that; but you could find more details if you reserch it.

  23. Laurence Daley
    United States
    December 5, 2014, 11:27 am

    Not all from the Americas were nobility. Thus, do not forget the Slave Market of Seville (Sevilla) where people, especially females of Indigenous Americas were sold.

    As late as the 1840 slave raiders were still capturing partially indigenous people from the palenques (escaped slave settlement, for example Palenque de la Cruz in the Sierra Maestra). These peoples were often from the so called Cabrera band that originated from the first settlements in old Oriente Province.

    I do not know if these captured peoples ever reached Spain, but it is probable that some from eastern Cuba did…

    Laurence Daley [Garcia-I~niguez]

  24. JK Meaders
    Atlanta, GA
    December 5, 2014, 11:24 am

    My maternal grandfather was 100% American Indian (I am told) but my DNA didn’t show ANY trace of American Indian. How is that possible? Or is it possible American Indian DNA can show up as something else, like Middle Eastern?

  25. Ingrid Li
    New York
    December 5, 2014, 11:20 am

    LIke Sarah from Florida I’m a bit disappointed with the very general results. I was born in Austria, so to find out that I am 50m % northern European and 50% mediterranian was not exactly a revelation.
    The general info was interesting, but I could have gotten that without a personal test.
    I feel that I spent the money to support the research on the project, and while I think this is worthwhile I would not have done it if I had know this beforehand. I almost feel that the test should be offered for free to gather research data

  26. Jana
    United States
    December 5, 2014, 11:03 am

    I’m a female and did the Geno 2.0 project. Found out that my maternal line is h2a2b1. However, I also did an autosomal test (STR) with DNA tribes and found out that my #1 population group was the Azores by far. Does anybody know if the National Geographic covers the Azores (as they are a little different from Portugal with more African influences).
    Have a nice day!

  27. Janet Smith
    December 5, 2014, 10:50 am

    The Asturias results are interesting to me. My 2X great grandfather was from Oviedo, Spain and I can see his influence in my results. I also have the same lower percentages of Neanderthal DNA. He was the only ancestor from this area mixed up with Italians, Hungarians, French, British and Dutch but it’s good to see some of him in my results.

  28. Santiago Xavier Espinosa MSc.
    October 25, 2014, 6:34 pm

    It’s a fantastic study. But I think that Native American maternal haplogroups are not so uncommon as we could expect in Spain. We must remember that many early conquistadors came back to Spain such as Hernando Pizarro with his niece, Francisca Pizarro, daughter of Francisco Pizarro and the Native American Inés Huaylas, princess cacica of Ancash. On the other hand the coming of other “mestizo” and indian nobles to Spain was neither so uncommon, like the case of Melchor Carlos Inca, a noble inca prince, who died in Spain and the Marquises of Santiago de Oropesa (Beatriz Clara Coya the daughter of a spanish nobleman Captain General of Chile and an Inka Coya or Princess), whose descendants mixed with many spanish noble families, and with many descendants in Spain. Not to mention the bastards sons of many other conquerors who went to Spain and stayed there and have offspring even today.

  29. Sarah
    Florida, USA
    October 22, 2014, 1:02 pm

    I was informed that my Geno 2.0 was available on line today. I was thrilled, hoping to learn about my ancestry.
    I can’t download anything (I called Nat Geo but couldn’t fix it, my problem is being worked on.
    From the bits and pieces, I now gather that this is a science project and just gives me general comments on how our world been……It sure didn’t give me a clue about me. Maybe if someone can help me to download my findings I’ll find something personal.
    Very disappointed I spent the money

  30. Iberia Soares
    British Columbia
    October 20, 2014, 2:48 pm

    My grandparents, parents my husband and I were born in the Island of S. Miguel Azores.
    Do you perform analysis from the areas.?

  31. Stephen Asciak
    Gold Coast Australia
    October 19, 2014, 9:40 pm

    It is pleasing to see Genographic presenting finally facts on the Ancient Europeans…the untold story of Ydna Haplogroup G… it is however quite disconcerting that certain interest groups are continuing a campaign for shutting down this information that the Ydna G haplogroup origins is in Europe and continue to present and inform people that haplogroup Ydna G has its origins in the Middle East or Caucasus. Genograthic presentation here disputes this.

  32. Crystal Solana Bryan
    Florida USA
    October 18, 2014, 5:35 pm

    I’m the president of Los Floridanos Society; Florida’s First Spanish Families, 1565-1763, and while most of our members come from two main families, there are several families represented in the Society. We have long been curious about possible Timucuan ancestry since not as many Spanish women came to Florida as men in the early years.
    Who would I contact about our Society and non-member cousins participating as part of our 450th First Spanish Families Reunion in Sept of 2015 in St. Augustine?

  33. Jerili Chance
    Austin,TX U.S.A
    October 17, 2014, 3:13 pm

    My ancestors came from Italy. Before I bought this kit, I knew that my ancestors originated from Aftica. I am not Hispanic so your information does not appear to apply to me. Am I missing something? Are you saying that all of us migrated from Europe to some Hispanic country so your info applies to my heritage. Please explain this. Thank You

  34. Robert Carrasco
    Vancouver, WA and Santiago, Chile
    October 16, 2014, 5:10 pm

    My grandparents on my mother’s side came from Wales to Chile. My father came from Los Angeles, Chile (in the south).
    It seems the Carrascos initially came from Spain, either the Barcelona area or Extremadura, in the west.

    Would the test cover these areas?

  35. Gareth Henson
    Cardiff, Wales
    October 13, 2014, 3:35 pm

    Are details available of which subgroups of R1b were found? I tested R-Z205 with Geno 2.0.

  36. Rafa
    Madrid (Spain)
    October 13, 2014, 3:46 am

    I think there´s a mistake in paternal heritage figure: central europe haplogroup incoming was mainly R1b (and lower frequencies of R1a). I2b is a minor subclade from germany, Scotland or Iran.

  37. Debbie Kennett
    October 12, 2014, 9:13 pm

    You can buy a Geno 2.0 kit here:


    Select “All others” from the country menu. When you’ve got your Geno 2.0 results make sure you do the free transfer to Family Tree DNA where you can look for genealogical matches and join projects. There is a project for India:


    I’m sure that the Families in British India Society would be interested in your results too as their members are hoping to find connections in India:


  38. Dr Chhotelal Jain
    Surat Gujarat (India)
    October 11, 2014, 10:36 am

    This is a noble project. I also desire to participate in this project.Please guide me.How can I get your kit and how can I send it back to your laboratory for further analysis.