Did your Iberian Peninsula DNA region completely disappear from your ethnicity estimate after the Ancestry DNA September 2018 update? If this happened to you, you are not alone. In this post, I’ll explain a little bit about why Iberian Peninsula might have been removed from your list, and what it may have been replaced with.
Before this update, I was always surprised at the level of interest in the Iberian Peninsula. It’s one of the most popular topics on this site and it is the region that I receive the most specific questions about. I think of the main reasons that so many people were interested in this DNA region is because they weren’t expecting to see it. It didn’t seem to match up with their known family history. Now that it has disappeared from many people’s ethnicity estimates, I’m not surprised to receive more questions about this topic.
Was your Iberian on Ancestry replaced with Spain, France, or Basque?
Many people might see their Iberian Peninsula replaced with a more detailed result from the actual Iberian Peninsula. There are two main countries and an additional ethnic group that make up the Iberian Peninsula, and Ancestry has added all of these as stand-alone regions under the European category:
If Ancestry DNA was able to detect specific Ancestry from any of these parts of the Iberian Peninsula, it will be reported on your newly updated ethnicity estimate. This is interesting, and much more helpful than the very general “Iberian Peninsula” category that was previously shown on results. It was the cause of much confusion!
Example of DNA from Iberian Peninsula being refined to more specific region
The image belong is a capture of my daughter’s DNA results (she’s a grown up and doesn’t mind me sharing her results for the world to see!). She has Mexican heritage with roots extending back to the Iberian Peninsula, specifically Spain and the Basque region. Her previous results reported a 3% Iberian Peninsula, but the 3% was replaced with 1% Basque and 1% Spain.
In my daughter’s case, she is happy to see the more detailed region. These regions, even though they only make up a small percentage of her total ancestry, are no longer relegated to a “low confidence” category. This leads us to believe that Ancestry DNA is more confident about my daughter having 1% Spain and 1% Basque than they were about her having 3% Iberian Peninsula. My daughter sees this as a win!
Did your Iberian from Ancestry completely disappear?
Some of us, and I’m including myself, will notice that our Iberian Peninsula DNA has completely disappeared. This can be a little disappointing. Through my research, I had gathered that my Iberian Peninsula ancestry was inherited through my English, Scottish, and Irish ancestors who came to the United States many centuries ago. The assumption is that those of us with this particular ancestry had many, many very distant Iberian ancestors from a very long time ago – much too far to trace back. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine how Iberian DNA could have ended up in the British Isles.
I was satisfied with this answer, even though I’m a naturally curious person and would have loved an explanation that would have been easier to prove. And who didn’t love daydreaming about a (bunch of) mysterious Spanish ancestor(s)?
Alas, with the new Ancestry DNA update, my 6% Iberian Peninsula has completely disappeared, as shown in the image below. I would also like to mention that my grandmother’s 15% and my Latino husband’s 2% Iberian Peninsula DNA completely disappeared, too!
It’s just gone. They didn’t replace it with anything at all, as you can see. Most of my other ethnicity regions were adjusted up or down, or were refined to more detail. But not my Iberian Peninsula – nope. They just deleted it. And that leads to the next question.
If my Iberian is gone from my Ancestry results, does that mean it was wrong before?
If they could just delete an entire region from my ethnicity results, does that mean it was never really there? Should I draw the conclusion that it was wrong before and now it is right? I think the “real” answer is more complicated than that.
As I always say, ethnicity estimates should never be interpreted as the gospel truth of one’s ancestry. In fact, the best way to test the accuracy of your ethnicity estimate is to build an accurate family tree using your DNA matches as a guide. An ethnicity estimate can be helpful sometimes, especially if there is a line of your family that you aren’t sure about, but it can never be used as any sort of proof of a particular ancestry.
One of the main reasons that is true is because we don’t inherit all of our parent’s DNA. We only get 50% of our mother’s DNA and 50% of our father’s DNA, meaning that 50% of each parent’s DNA is, in effect, “lost” to us. It’s very important to understand this. We might really have an 100% Italian great-great grandparent, but because of the way that DNA is inherited, we might not have inherited as much Italian DNA as we think we should have.
But this doesn’t really address the question. What we really want to know is if a major change in an ethnicity estimate, such as deleting an entire ethnicity region, means that it was wrong to have reported it in the first place.
Based on the dozen or so DNA tests that I administer, the extensive family tree research that I have done, and the advanced work I’ve done with my family’s DNA (such as chromosome mapping), I have come to two conclusions:
- Most people will see more accuracy with the new Ancestry DNA update, including those people who had Iberian Peninsula
- Ancestry DNA has removed regions that they believed were “low confidence”. Basically, they are reporting to us what they are pretty sure about, and are not giving us speculations about our DNA. For many of us, Iberian DNA maybe have been just that – speculation.
Some of us enjoyed the “speculation”, but I can also understand the company’s need to ensure that people have confidence in their DNA test results.
I hope that this post helped shed some light on your own DNA results and why your Iberian Peninsula disappeared, either to be reported as a more detailed region, or erased all-together. I’d love to hear from you about your own experience with Iberian Peninsula DNA disappearing in the discussion below. And as always, please feel free to ask any questions about anything that you read in this post.
To learn more, check out my “DNA Tools” page where I have compiled resources about how learn from your DNA results.
Thanks for stopping by!