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Mr Thiel chose the mammoth, turning down an anti-ageing scheme and an artificial intelligence project, according to the author.
This is not the first time that the Harvard team has found its ambitious mammoth project in the spotlight this year.
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Tiny ears and short tails prevented vital body heat being lost.
Using this technique, scientists could cut and paste preserved mammoth DNA into Asian elephants to create and elephant-mammoth hybrid.
Now Mr Thiel is said to have backed a top Harvard team attempting to bring the enormous mammals back to life.
The most widely used technique, known as CRISPR/Cas9, has transformed genetic engineering since it was first demonstrated in 2012.
The system allows the 'cut and paste' manipulation of strands of DNA with a precision not seen before.
The final beast would be a hybrid between an Asian elephant and a mammoth.