78 Times People Had No Idea What They Were Looking At, But The Internet Knew What It Was Right Away
The world is full of wondrous things, and we are led to believe that every piece of it serves a purpose. Even the most obscure objects and findings that don’t seem to fit any category. Or do they?
Luckily, for these curious instances, there’s a bunch of Sherlock Holmes sitting right behind their computer screens ready to tackle any mysterious stuff people have stumbled upon. Yes, we’re talking Reddit’s beloved corner called “What Is This Thing” that has a solid 1.9 million followers and has been steadily growing since its creation in 2010.
So this time we’ve selected some of the most entertaining, bizarre, and surprising solved mysteries from this awesome subreddit, so get ready to treat your inner detective. Psst! Our previous posts with strange objects explained can be found here, here, and here.
#1 Im Waiting For The Bank To Open And They Have This Card Facing The Street. What Is It Used For?
Answer: Former bank employee here. It's definitely a safety signal. We switched ours quarterly and it is to let other employees know that it is all clear to open.
Image credits: bangsoul
#2 Witt: Two Spoons Attached To A Wooden Handle At The Thrift Store?
Answer: It's a musical instrument literally called "spoons". Used as percussion by clacking the spoons together. I'll see if I can find an example of them being played
Image credits: HoagieDillJr
#3 Unknown Glass Object Filled With Unknown Liquid, Found In An Early 1900’s Barn. Any Leads?
Answer: Fire extinguisher.
Image credits: The_Donnel9801
#4 This Is A On Gate Blocking Road Access To Some Cell Towers. Why So Many Locks, And How Would Someone Even Open It?
Answer: You can open the gate by unlocking only one padlock. The way it's designed means that multiple people can use the gate, and if one person loses their keys, only their padlock needs replaced. As opposed to one padlock with many keys, you'd need to give tons of people the new key.
Image credits: FactorialANOVA
#5 Floating Home Found Tied To A Fence On The Beach In Southern California
Answer: It's floating duck house or similar structure for local waterfowl. They give ducks a place to sleep safe from predators or to escape water predators (usually snapping turtles and such).
Image credits: mtdunca
#6 These Appeared In My Friends Back Yard, They Are Gelatinous But Start To Dissolve When You Start Touching Them.
Answer: Looks like water beads / plant gel. They're a kind of gel-like ball that absorb water and are used in plant pots. They get bloated and will burst if in water for too long.
Image credits: wixterix
#7 New House, And We’re Perplexed! What Is This Hole/Vent Above Our Fireplace? When We Pull The Blue Tape Off, We Can Feel Cool Air Coming In (We’re In The Southern Us, So It’s Not “Cold,” But Definitely Feels Like Outdoor Air
Answer: it’s for media cables for a TV that would be been mounted there.
Image credits: Rice-Correct
#8 Found This On The Side Of The Road In My Neighborhood. Thought It Was A Brain, Then Dissected It And Now I Have No Idea. Lots Of Small Lobes, Fuzzy Inside, Rubbery?
Answer: You my friend, have just dissected dog poop. Someone’s dog has eaten paper towels in abundance. They can’t digest it and it comes out like this
Image credits: Godbleththismeth
#9 Door With A Hinged Section A Quarter Through Horizontally?
Answer: I think it was an attempt to wrap around the wall but the cut was made on the wrong side of the door!
Image credits: armeg
#10 I Work In A Restaurant, We Had A Customer Complaining That They Found That In Our Chicken - It's Not A Part Of Any Equipment We Have In Store. Any Ideas?
Answer: Wrench Cutout Wrap
Image credits: SlapMeWithYourDonger
#11 Metal Sphere With Russian Writing Found On A Bahama Beach
Answer: It probably contained high pressure nitrogen (-196 C is the boiling point of nitrogen). Likely used to spin up the pumps of a rocket motor as it started. A sphere is the ideal shape for containing high pressure gas/liquid.
Image credits: hydrogennanoxyde
#12 What Is This V-Shaped Scoring? Found In Germany
Answer: That’s an old way to collect sap to make turpentine. It’s called “cat face”
Image credits: seriousffm
#13 Found While Cleaning Out A Deceased Estate. At First Glance Looks To Hold Liquid, But Has A Large Hole In The Bottom So, What Is This Thing?
Answer: Wasp Trap. Sweet fluid and dish soap go in bottom. Stinging insects fly in, dish soap eliminates surface tension and coats them. They die/drown.
Image credits: Silverslade1
#14 This Structure I Found While Walking In The Woods, The Metal Bit Is About 2 Feet Wide And Looks Like It Could Uncomfortably Fit A Person In It. My Guesses Are A Well, Sewer Or Time Capsule. For Context I Live In Eastern Massachusetts. We Plan On Going Back To Open It
Answer: Definitely a man hole. Do not open it. DEFINITELY DO NOT GO IN IT! Manholes are notoriously deadly because they contain low oxygen percentages and high concentrations of poisonous gases such as hydrogen sulfide and methane. First responders usually find two dead people in manholes - the first one that went in and succumbed and their friend who watched them pass out and rushes in to help.
Image credits: Darkstalkker
#15 What Is The Use Of This Fourth Piece Of Cutlery I've Seen In A German Museum?
Answer: It's a baby food pusher, quite common in the 1800s - early 1900s
Image credits: FlyWithTheCars
#16 This Item In Our Kitchen? We're Not Quite Sure What It Is.
Answer: It's a pastry cutter.
Image credits: PP1tch
#17 These Small "Rooms" That Are Raised Up From The Ground Are All Over The Spanish Countryside. Many Of The Old Houses Have One. What Was/Is It Used For?
Answer: They're grain stores called "hórreos"
Image credits: baconuggets
#18 This Guy Just Walked Up And Down The Meadow With This Thing. What Could This Be?
Answer: magnetometry or magnetic survey - not GPR
Image credits: fabian_sigrist
#19 This Was Taken This Morning. It's A Very Odd Shaped Cloud, Or Maybe Even Vapor Trail. I'm Guessing It's Illuminated By The Approaching Sunrise. This Is From Clearwater Florida, Facing East. Google Lens Said Maybe A Rocket Launch?
Answer: Rocket launch. The wind currents at different altitudes have likely caused the odd appearance, closer in time to the launch it would have appeared more "normal"
Image credits: shackmd
#20 At The Beach In Southern Ca. Alive With Claw Things That Moved In Purple Sheathes. Bubbly Body. A Feather Stuck To It????? (Screenshot From Video)
Answer: Looks like a cluster of goose barnacles with a random feather in there
Image credits: SweetTaterette
#21 Any Guesses As To What This Plane Part Is? Fell Out Of The Sky In Colorado When That United Engine Failed
Answer: I think that's a vape pen dude
Image credits: baltor85
#22 Small Red Container. The Lid Has A Small Spoon Attached To The Inside.
Answer: Snuff container
Image credits: HiFructoseCornSizurp
#23 Odd Formation In Louisiana Coast - 29.323196471225256, -89.33106000180526
Answer: coastal erosion counter measure. they use a bucket ladder dredge with a bentonite injection pump to dig trenches 20-80 feet deep that are backfilled with the bentonite added mix. This pattern allows for natural inflow and outflow and will accumulate sedimentary deposits that would otherwise have washed to sea. Eventually plants will establish over these areas when the salinity diminishes.
Image credits: waldoboro
#24 Witt? An Unusually Shaped Sink Possibly In A Corridoor, Spotted In A Property Listing On An Older House. Looks Quite Narrow, Probably Too Small For Washing Boots.
Answer: It’s called a butlers sink, or cleaners sink. It’s used for cleaning, filling buckets, emptying out waste so housekeeping can wash down surfaces without wandering through the house.
Image credits: Cisco800Series
#25 Weird Metal Tube (Now Dented) Found Metal Detecting In Se Iowa On A Farmstead That Stood From The 1890s-1960s. Seems To Be Made Of Copper, Found 4" Down, And Has A Bat-Like Symbol On One End. It's Closed On Both Ends And Feels Hollow.
Answer: It's 1940s lipstick by Coty.
Image credits: Baidon
#26 Strange Weapon I Found In A German News Clip About The Turkish Coup (Link In Comments)
Answer: Drone killer. It sends a strong and very directional radio frequency signal to jam the receíver on the drone to cause it to crash.
Image credits: lumpyluggage
#27 Bundle Of Rubbery Sheets Found Washed Up On A Beach In The Caribbean
Answer: These are rubber sheets from harvesting rubber from rubber trees. They ship them in cubes with a bunch of these
Image credits: trinisk8er
#28 An Excessive Amount Of (Chimneys, Various Vents?) On A House In Castile De Leon, Spain
Answer: Those are air ducts and the the flue for gas central heating. A third one is almost certainly for the garage. That building is subdivided into at least 2 apartments. Could be three. Our apartment has one for each for each vertical block of apartments. As in a flue duct and an air duct. You need a separate duct for the garage area as well it can't be on the same one. You can see the dividing line in the tiles here as well so one side was probably built a while after the other and so they couldn't share the center ducting or the garage. Find it on google maps and see how many house numbers are there. Could be four.
Image credits: frogman_fraudman
#29 Found On A Hike Up A Hill In South Dakota. The Eye Does Not Appear Natural, But I Am Not Sure What Caused It.
Answer: Mineral deposition within the rock that has dissolved over a long period of time
Image credits: SefferWeffers
#30 Found In A Garden. Metallic Object That Closes In On Itself
Answer: Looks like a Hindu ritual box. It is missing the middle piece that would sit in that central hole.
Image credits: ScZi
#31 Moving Into A New Apartment And Found This On The Wall. It Seems Like A Plastic Plate That’s Just Hollow Inside The Opening. What Could This Be For?
Answer: It’s a port for hiding cables in wall.
Image credits: baldbabe92
#32 What Would Cause My Friends Lawn To Look Like This After The Snow Melted
Answer: That's some major vole activity. They look a lot like mice, but tend to be very active under winter snows and like tunneling.
Image credits: branevomet
#33 Found While Trail Running. What Are These Things? There's Rotten Wood That Goes Along It That Looks Cut/Altered By Man. Would It Be For Making A Flat Surface To Easily Maneuver The Mine?
Answer: It's a collapsed wood-stave pipeline, it may have been for dewatering the mine
Image credits: TheBumpinSexies
#34 What Would Be Shipped In This Strange Shaped Container?
Answer: it's a ( human or equine) sperm shipping container.
Image credits: Moeextoic
#35 Found On My Driveway. The Rcmp Arrested My Neighbour Last Night; Could It Be Related To That?
Answer: a taser dart.
Image credits: Gicemen
#36 Open Spoon With Spikes; Trident-Like Fork; Tongs With A Chicken Foot And A Perforated Spoon. All Antique Silver.
Answer: Olive server, lettuce server, ice tongs. Having a talon on ice tongs is a novelty feature, but there are a lot of them out there!
Image credits: hamster-cow
#37 What Is This Ring My Uber Driver Would Randomly Click?
Answer: Hes praying, thats a counter. The prayer involves repeating a phrase a certain number of times. Traditionally you kept track on your fingers or with a string of beads. This device does the same job.
Image credits: DannyMThompson
#38 Found Metal Detecting In A Minnesota Park Where Other Objects Around 1860s Have Been Pulled.
Answer: Mold for casting lead soldiers
Image credits: turtlesupremelord
#39 About The Size Of My Hand. Found In The Trash. (I'm A Trash Man). Any Ideas?
Answer: Laser cut "perpetual" calendar.
Image credits: anxietyattacks77
#40 What Has Made These Funny Markings On My Housemate’s Candle Cover? She Has Never Lit The Candle, But It Sits On Her Windowsill In The Sunlight!
Answer: Dried up liquids or (more likely) mould/fungae.
Image credits: nosefluteenthusiast
#41 Glass Vase Thing Found In A Thrift Store In Navarre, Fl.
Answer: It's a kind of wine bottle used in Spain, specifically Catalonia. You drink from it by pouring a stream through the air and directly into your mouth. I'll see if I can find the actual name. Found it. It's called a Porron
Image credits: xlgiraffe18
#42 This Rack Type Drawer Is Mounted In A Kitchen Cabinet. This Is As Far As It Pulls Out And The Bars Do Not Rotate Or Come Out.
Answer: This is to hang washcloths and gloves. My stepmother installs them under her sink, since they don’t come standard.
Image credits: PhtevenPheagal
#43 Witt? They’ve Been Showing Up On The Beach By The Hundreds For The Last Month!
Answer: Bio filter media
Image credits: PrisAustin
#44 Small Metal Object, No Idea How Old Or What It Is?
Answer: Answer: Its snuff/pill box
Image credits: ThePanesh4800
#45 Small Scoop With Alligator Clip As The Handle. Found It Cleaning Out The Kitchen.
Answer: Coffee scoop with bag clip for coffee bag.
Image credits: SCruzed
#46 Why Does This Truck Have A Giant Frame Around It?
Answer: To haul building materials like sheetrock or lumber.
Image credits: alien_penis_monster
#47 What Is This Green Round Object Found In My Grandparents Garden. It Is Made Out Of Plastic With A Round Plate And A Separate Cylinder On Top Of It And Two Straw Like Pipes Both On Top And Bottom.
Answer: That's a slug trap.
Image credits: PoltRomero
#48 What Is This Boat Off The Coast Of Long Island, NY With Three Tall Smoke Stacks?
Answer: Not smoke stacks, piles. It’s a working barge, and those piles are lowered into the sea floor to stabilize the vessel while working. They are very commonly used on maritime construction projects such as bridge and tunnel building, surveying, shore protection, etc.
Image credits: reddit.com
#49 Found In A Pile Of Scrap Steel. About 1 Foot Across. Two Handles And Covered In Spikes.
Answer: It looks like a dibble board for making small holes to plant seeds in soil/seed trays, not seen one made from metal before though
Image credits: braincube
#50 Found At Antique Store. Label Said "Key". Key To What?
Answer: It's a water meter key
Image credits: adamantsilk
#51 What Is This Thing? The Part Above The Handle Rotates
Answer: It's a kite spindle. I used to have one. It seems like a reproduction of what they used to use in the golden era... but definitely, 100% a kite spindle!
Image credits: genoihoios
#52 Trailer With A Submarine-Resembling Container With Portholes Parked On The Grounds Of A Public Swimming Pool
Answer: Road-portable tank for training/practicing underwater breathing devices? It does not look like it's meant to be submerged in water nor is it bulky enough for a pressurized decompression chamber.
Image credits: Murmelurmeli
#53 Staying At An Air B&b, Why Does The Vent Have A Green Light Inside It?
Answer: That’s a custom made setup with a UVC lamp
Image credits: JackOfAllMemes
#54 Noticed A Few Of Those Mounds Around, What Are They For?
Answer: As the others have said it's just a more attractive method of stopping parking/pedestrians. Usually see them around car parks or on High Streets in front of shops in older areas of the UK where they deem fences or metal barriers to be a distraction to the area. Same idea as the grass mounds you sometimes see on the sides of roads/parks.
Image credits: ajgorpolska
#55 Feels Like Hard Rubber And Was Found In The Ground
Answer: Those are cattle brands, it is the base from a horseshoes set
Image credits: splinterpus
#56 What Is This Thing That Looks Like Superman's Pod? I Saw While Going For A Walk In Burbank, Ca
Answer: An old prop from the show Colony. This looks a lot like the pods that “outliers” (highly skilled humans) were scooped up by the aliens to go fight other aliens.
Image credits: devomorales
#57 Saw This Bulldozer With A Giant Spike On The Front In A Meme. Is This A Weird Forklift? Why Does It Only Have 1 Spike Then? Is This Possibly To Push Around A Very Specific Type Of Equipment?
Answer: We have one similar to that at work. The spike is a little bigger and longer, but we use it for moving steel coils around the coil yard.
Image credits: Esava
#58 These Two Pieces Of Wood Attached By A Nylon Strap. Found On The Beach In Oregon.
Answer: Makeshift wheel chocks.
Image credits: Cityburner
#59 So, I Found This Thing On Google Maps, It’s A Very Strange Feature That I Can’t Find Anything But Conflicting Info About Online. Google Maps Says It’s A Train But How??? Why?!!! Does Anyone Have Any Solid Facts About What This Is?
Answer: It is a block of ice thrown from the near by mountain in an avalanche.
Image credits: Zachman97
#60 Two Of These Buildings On A Lot Where New Housing Is Going To Be Built
Answer: Bat houses
Image credits: gempir
#61 Intracite Iron Contraption That Opens On One Side
Answer: Cast iron buggy/whip holder
Image credits: beeaggressive63
#62 What Is This Thing? It Is Likely Nautical In Nature As I Live On Cape Cod, Its Just Sitting In My Yard. About 18” Long, And Very Heavy, 75 Lbs. I Would Guess.
Answer: It's a capstan winch
Image credits: soulshyfter2311
#63 Found This Metal Object In Auckland, New Zealand. Banana, Hot Wheels Car And Fruit Pie For Scale! Metal (Brass?) With Screw Thread At The Bottom And Coloured Plastic Rings Around Shaft, Some Opaque, Some Transparent. Found On The Shoreline At The Ōtuataua Stonefields Reserve, Near The Airport.
Answer: I'm sure this is the handle to a machinists hammer. It's the common item to make when learning how to turn on a lathe. I made one nearly identical when I first started.
Image credits: McArgister
#64 Small Boxes With Dead Bolted Doors About 10 Feet Off The Ground. Wall Of A Cinema.
Answer: They are almost certainly access for speakers or lighting. If you stop to think about what would be involved in using a lift inside you can see why the access is outside. My guess is that this is an older theater retrofitted or perhaps a partition wall was demolished. You'd prefer to have an access space there, but if you can't--because it's an outside wall--you have to do this.
Image credits: Lefttuesday
#65 Witt I Found In A Handbag? It's Made Of Metal, And Both Balls Are Glued Fast. The Bar Moves. The 4 Ends Are Not Rounded, Just Clipped.
Answer: Ladies used to use small whisks to degas carbonated drinks. Guess burping is not ladylike. Also used to degas wine, probably to make it more quickly drinkable after bottle opening.
Image credits: jjonie
#66 Counter Or Monitoring Station Found On A Log In Zion National Park
Answer: something to measure inflow to an aquifer
Image credits: yiddiebeth
#67 This Structure Between Two Buildings. Realtively New Buildings, Connected By These Rebar (?) Frames. It Doesn't Look Like Anything Moves Between Them
Answer: rebar is generally the steel inside concrete to strengthen it. These are I beams or girders
Image credits: yesmilady
#68 Stainless Steel, About The Size Of A Tea Spoon, No Additional Markings
Answer: Mint sauce ladle
Image credits: ruthsb
#69 Green Plastic Scissor Handle With Metal Loops And Plastic Teeth. No Identifying Marks.
Answer: My guess would be some sort of herb stripper. Sprigs go in the loops; teeth are closed, and stalks are pulled out.
Image credits: PatientFerrisWhl
#70 In A UK Primary School. I Remember Seeing These As A Kid But Can't Remember What They're For! Holding Something? But What?
Answer: we used in primary school to hold canes to jump over
Image credits: asonicpushforenergy
#71 What's The Long-Lasting Trail Behind This Boat?
Answer: This article says this is a persistent “turbulent wake” as opposed to the “Kelvin” wake that is the short lived wavy wake we are used to seeing. This article suggests that the “railroad track” turbulent wake is caused by thin films generated on the surface by the passage of the ship. There are photos in this article of this exact phenomenon. Turbulent wake
Image credits: daitaiming
#72 Found 100 Feet Underground In Old Cave/Mine. It's Rusted Metal, About 2 Feet Tall With Pipes Attached. The White Thing Is Electrical Wire Wrapped Around It.
Answer: Hydraulic ram.
Image credits: Tipilihc
#73 It Used To Be Used In World War 1 But We’ve Got No Clue What It Was Meant For
Answer: It's a curette, a medical instrument used for scraping away tissue (for example removing certain skin lesions, removing dead tissue from a wound).
Image credits: fatjezza
#74 Found This In My Bathroom In Germany...
Answers: they are meters that show how much hot and cold water has been used.
Image credits: RIddlemirror
#75 Found Outside A Medical Arts Office Building In Florida. I Have Seen Pipes Like This Outside Of Buildings Before But None This Big.
Answer: It‘s inline to a water main, the different pieces have different uses. The bottom with the large block-off plate is an access for maintenance. Up from that is a gate valve wheel, to shut off the main, up from that is a sampling unit, presumably for testing water purity at the main, the top is another type of block-off plate, it‘s needed because the pieces are all modular and capable of having more pieces/pipes bolted to both ends.
Image credits: pizzafan2
#76 This Building Was Found In A Country Estate In Scotland. It's About The Size Of A Large Shed And Has Small Slits And Platforms On The Outside. What Is It?
Answer: It's a bee hotel. The bee house version instead allows for multiple complete hives where the bees live, which I suppose is less like a hotel and more like condominiums.
Image credits: Cheap_Doughnut7887
#77 Old School Chem Set Maybe? Found In Abandoned Building With No Info On It.
Answer: Bach flower remedies. They are solutions of brandy and water—the water containing extreme dilutions of flower material developed by Edward Bach, an English homeopath, in the 1930s.
Image credits: HeroinHero666
#78 Found Coming Out Of A Small Hill. Water Alternates Between Either Side, Going Down Each Step.
Answer: I believe this is the Lyon Creek – Cedar Way Stormwater Detention Dam. I contacted an engineer with the city because I was so curious about whether it was a fish ladder or not. They just got back to me and confirmed it is a fish ladder. They also sent an operation manual that includes some history and descriptions, very interesting.
Image credits: No-Introduction5636