NBC News had an interesting story from Australia detailing how ornithologists were able to affect the mating habits of two subspecies of fairy-wrens simply by using Sharpie-like markers on them.
According to the story, the males of fairy-wren subspecies have orange back feathers while the males of the other have red.
Both sets of birds tend to mate within their subspecies to nest and raise their young. However, the females also like to play the field.
And this is where it gets problematic: The females from the orange group prefer the males with the bright red feathers. The result is that the genetic material of the two subspecies is getting all mixed up, slowing their evolution into two more distinct groups.
So, instead of giving them their own reality show, ornithologists from Cornell University tried a simple test. They painted the feathers on the orange birds with a PrismaColor Carmine Red marker (a Newell Rubbermaid cousin to Sharpies).
The idea was to determine whether the change would trick the females into mating with the orange-feathered birds. Sure enough, it did. The poor little orange guys were no longer lonely.
Now why was the experiment important? Because science.
But you know what this means for the rest of us? Two words: customized wildlife. No more of that piddle about the leopard not being able to change his spots. Not after we've grabbed our Sharpies and headed into the wild.
(The preceding paragraph was a joke, only a joke, and nothing but a joke.)
And, seems they're also useful for marking up people prior to surgery.
Yet more reasons to love Sharpie – just try not to get carried away.