Mammoth task: billionaire Peter Thiel funded effort to resurrect woolly beast
The Silicon Valley titan, who has openly challenged death as an inevitability, invested $100,000 in a project to bring the extinct mammoth back to life
PayPal billionaire and Gawker war-wager Peter Thiel has invested $100,000 in a research effort to resurrect the woolly mammoth.
Thiel, who believes that viewing demise as inevitable is a sign of complacency of the western world, devoted the money to Harvard University genomics professor George Church, whose laboratory is attempting to revive the extinct pachyderm.
The donation, detailed for the first time in a new book by Ben Mezrich called Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of Historys Most Iconic Extinct Creatures, was stimulated in 2015.
The de-extinction approach taken by Church and his team will sound familiar to Jurassic Park fans: they are taking DNA removed from frozen mammoths and using it to genetically modify elephant cells. So far, according to the book, the team has managed to get mammoth fur to grow from the side of a mouse grafted with some elephant cells. The results have yet to be published in any scientific papers.
Peter Thiels team did not respond to requests for verification of the investment, but Church told MIT Technology Review that it was true.
Church said that over a breakfast, Thiel told him he wanted to fund the craziest thing he was doing. Church suggested three options: an anti-aging scheme involving gene therapy, a project utilizing human neurons to create artificial intelligence, and the mammoth.
He ran for the mammoth.
Its not entirely surprising Thiel wants to bringing a mammal back from the dead. According to several interviews, Thiel insures demise as a terrible inconvenience that needs disrupting.