Zero in on Mexican Ancestry on Cinco de Mayo

Today is Cinco de Mayo. This day commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France in the Battle of Puebla (not Mexican independence day as is commonly believed), but is more widely observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. There are different ways to celebrate Mexican culture – fiestas around the country host mariachi performances and a trip to a taqueria shouldn’t be missed. Another way to celebrate Mexican heritage is through DNA. I reached out to my good friend Miguel who hails from the state of Jalisco in Mexico to see what he’s discovered about his ancestry through 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service. Like many Mexicans, Miguel learned through family stories that he has both Native American and European ancestry. It turns out that roughly 69% of his DNA traces to Europe, 28% is suggestive of Native American ancestry, and about 3% traces to Africa. He’s been told that his Native American ancestry comes from his maternal side and this was confirmed by investigating his maternal line. Miguel’s maternal lineage (C1c) is very old and typically found in Native Americans and native Asian populations. This data contributed to 23andMe’s Native American Ancestry Finder feature proclaiming, “Yes Miguel, it looks likely that you have Native American ancestry”. His European ancestry comes from his father’s side and this was confirmed by investigating his paternal line (R1b1b2a1a2f), an offshoot of the most common line in western Europe (R1b1b2) and found at high frequency in Basque populations. This fits with what Miguel’s been told about his European roots.

23andMe customers can learn all about their ancestry in their account. Not yet a customer? Visit our store!
Perhaps the most eye-catching part of Miguel’s DNA voyage is found in his Ancestry Finder profile (see figure below). This feature combines DNA matches (segments of DNA you share with other 23andMe customers) with self-reported ancestry data obtained from our Where Are You From? survey. Based on his results, he shares DNA with several other 23andMe customers who have Mexican and South American ancestors. Even if you don’t have Mexican ancestry like Miguel, we wish all of you a happy Cinco de Mayo. Go get your taco and toast to Miguel for helping us discover that DNA can help you “cinco” in on your ancestry! Miguel’s Ancestry Finder Data Interested in ancestry? Read about how Sheridan got up to speed on her ancestry and get an overview of the breadth 23andMe’s ancestry features. DNA can also offer clues about Irish ancestry.
  • Alex

    I was excited to read this article because I’ve been thinking about using your genome service; but this was underwhelming.

    Of course Miguel has indigenous blood in him – just like the vast majority of Mexicans. By definition Mexicans are mestizo, a combination of European and indigenous American bloodlines. You don’t need genetic testing to know that.

    What I’m interested in is knowing what tribes specifically I come from in Mexico. Otomi? Mayan? Mexica?

    Can you tell me that with your service?

    Thanks, Alex

    • BethannH

      Hi Alex,
      Thanks for your comment. We are currently working to improve the resolution of our ancestry mappings, but because of the lack of publicly available reference data for Native American DNA we likely won’t be able to provide information on specific tribes in Mexico in the near future.

  • Linda

    Where can I find an Ancestry Finder Data chart for my results like the one for Miguel in this article? I would like to see the countries my Genome refers to.


    • BethannH

      Hello Linda,

      Under “My Ancestry” on the left hand side, click on “Ancestry Labs” and then “Ancestry Finder”. Ancestry Finder is one of our experimental features and works by combining DNA matches (segments of DNA you share with other 23andMe customers) with self-reported ancestry data obtained from our Where Are You From? survey. I hope you find it interesting!

  • I’d also be interested. I am of Mexican descent as Miguel is however, unlike Miguel I know of my African blood. My greatgrandfather, a Mexican of African/Indigenous phenotype (known as a Zambo by the spanish during colonial times ) was very dark, not tanned, naturally very dark with cuculuste (kinky hair) he spoke no English and was the epitomy of what a Mexican use to look like before the german immigrants arrived during the 1860’s. Unless Alex (the guy who thinks Mexicans are only Indigenous/spanish) unless he’s a grandson of one of the german immigrants or of a criollo family that only married relatives, he
    ight be surprised to find that he may not only want to know the tribe of his Indigenous forefathers but he may also want to know of his African tribe. Not all Mexicans know the truth of Mexico’s hidden history. The truth that hides behind 500 years of miscegenation. To Alex I say, if you are not of the inbreds of the crillos or related to any of the germans or french that may have also practiced marrying cousins then you may be another one of the 75% of Mexicans with African blood. If you can’t understand it or don’t believe it all I can say is read, read, read… Not the edited history of the spanish ruling class who were defeated in 1821 by Vicente Guerrero, Mexico’s first black president but the books written by those who researched the historical spanish ship’s manifests that tell us that Mexico received just as many slaves as the U.S. The difference being that inter racial marriage was legal in Mex. from day one.

    • Max

      Vidal, you may be right that african blacks were introduced into Mexico; but they were not free; theirsocial status was lower than that of the indians; and most of them were men, to be used in mines and other works; for a time they came to replace the indians that died from the diseases introduced by the spaniards. Now the big question, does this mean “all mexicans” have african genes? I doubt it. Some, very likely, and they can still show it: example: large noses with curly hair; but the skin color is not a reliable indicator, for some pure indians are really dark-skinned.
      How much percentage you need to have to be considered “african”? clearly, 2% is nothing. In fact I would really doubt of the meaning of that 2% as proof of african descent. Why? because that would suggest a very long-time ago event of mating, say thousands of years, whereas for mestizo mexicans, we are talking about 400 years max. clearly not enough to decrease the “african crossing” significantly. And people of this company can correct me if I’m wrong. Therefore, if you really had an african ancestors from say, 1700, I would predict that your gene test would show greater than 10% of african descent, not less. But please, I want to hear of real cases, and then, theory can be corrected or confirmed.

      • BethannH

        Assuming a halving of the DNA evidence each generation, people with one African ancestor 5 generations back (great great great grandparent) can expect to see about 3% African ancestry. Assuming that each generation is about 30 years (people have children around age 30), that would be about 150 years ago.

        If you go further back, by chance alone some people with a single African ancestor 5-10 generations ago will still see evidence of that ancestry in their DNA, while others will not.

  • Jorge R

    When you will have your services available in Mexico?


    • BethannH

      Hi Jorge R,
      Thank you for your interest in 23andMe. We do not currently offer our services in Mexico.

      Here is a link to a list of the countries that we currently offer our services:

      We do hope to expand to more countries but do not have a specific timeline for each country. The offering depends on various issues such as transportation ease, local laws about genetic testing and sample transportation.

  • Barbara Gordon

    I have a few questions…If I am a female and I want to find out my paternal ancestry, can I use my son? My parents have passed away and I have no brothers or sisters from my father and I wanted to confirm that my paternal ancestry is originateted in South America, is that possible? Also, if I have my son tested, will his maternal and paternal ancestry be seperated into seperate catagories so that I can tell which he recieved from me? And finaly, is the ancestry and medical history purchased seperatly or is it all in the same kit? I am VERY interested in this product.
    Thank you,

    • BethannH

      Hello Barbara,
      Thank you for your interest in 23andMe. 23andMe only has one comprehensive health plus ancestry product. For $99 you will receive information about your health and ancestry. People trace their paternal lines through their fathers. This means that your son’s paternal line came from his father. Consequently you can not trace your paternal line through your son. You would need to have your father, brother or uncle tested. I hope this helps!