14+ Times The Internet Had To Help Identify Someone's Strange Discovery

If you like to do some sleuthing, but you're not into actual crime scenes, you could do worse than checking out the r/whatisthisthing subreddit. It's a place where people will post pictures of things they can't identify, and you can spend many an hour scrolling along, seeing if you know what a thing is that others don't.

Honestly, I haven't had much luck identifying a lot of the things that people post, but the community in general has an excellent track record of figuring out what the heck a lot of things are. Just check out these strange discoveries!

"Does anyone know what this is? Found it in a bomb crater in Austria." -Lolraphael

Reddit | Lolraphael

Definitely an appropriate find for an old bomb crater, it's an Austria-Hungary Artillery Corp qualification badge. Considering that there hasn't been an Austria-Hungary since the end of WWI more than a century ago, it's a cool find.

"My neighbours drew this star on their doorstep which has a little drop of blood in it... Why?" -LegendOfPooh

Reddit | LegendOfPooh

Turns out that's not blood, and the symbol provides a cool opportunity to learn about another culture.

It's a kolam, something drawn as part of Tamil new year celebrations, often done in rice flour. The red dot is kumkum powder.

"This is found to the right of the door on an old town house in York, England. It is conical, metal, the narrow end of the cone does not lead into the house, like it would if it were some kind of instrument to announce your presence to those inside the dwelling." -vvvaaaggguuueee

Reddit | vvvaaaggguuueee

It's like a candle snuffer, but much larger, and it serves a much similar purpose, snuffing out torches back in the days long before electrical or even gas lights.

"Neighbour put this up beside the fence. Has beeped a couple of times throughout the day. Not sure what it could be, any ideas?" -chem7engineer9

Reddit | chem7engineer9

That beeping always seems to come after a dog barks, and there's a reason for that: The beep is at such a pitch that it's intended to annoy dogs to discourage them from barking.

Apparently these anti-barking devices have been known to make dogs bark even more, so who knows, it might not stay up for very long.

"Concrete pyramid found in the woods." -Billymdean

Reddit | Billymdean

That's...pretty random alright. But in the area where it was located, they're actually somewhat common - it's a mining-heavy area, and those concrete pyramids cap off old mine shafts.

"Brass, kind of heavy, top comes off. No idea what it is. Found it in a box." -JohnVoltage819

Reddit | JohnVoltage819

Talk about your specialized tools, this little hammer-looking thing is exactly that, but for katanas.

When you want to fully clean your katana, the pointy end pokes out the wooden peg that holds a blade guard in place, and the hammer end taps it back in when you're ready to put it all back together.

"Found this creepy thing in the garage this morning in Colorado. It is not alive." -chothehoe

Reddit | chothehoe

Well, it's not alive now, but it used to be part of something that was alive, as someone identified it as a squirrel's stomach, probably left there by a cat.

Thanks, cat. Eww.

"Found this while cleaning grandparents attic. What is this thing?" -ConstableFishie

Reddit | ConstableFishie

Not a whole lot to go on there, but that didn't hold the community back, as someone was able to identify this as a combination matchbox/candle holder.

"Just checked my freshwater tank after 8 hours and this thing is in there. Looks like an egg sack. Have tetras, 1 frog, 1 snail and a bunch of shrimp. Any help?" -Boscowodie

Reddit | Boscowodie

Boscowodie should trust their instincts more, because they're spot on - their snail is going to be a mama.

"This belonged to a [jeweler] around 1890. Thank you in advance." -Re_de_reni

Reddit | Re_de_reni

That jeweler would have used this appropriately ornate device to add rivets to their creations; it's a rivet press.

"Found at local softball field while doing maintenance. When you shake it it sounds like there’s another ball inside of it and it rings. What is this??" -daboclock69

Reddit | daboclock69

It's a baoding ball, often used in meditation practices, although they typically come as a pair that you twirl around in your hand. This one has clearly been separated from its twin.

"Found this in my work bench, no memory of buying it. No idea what exactly it does." -scionoflogic

Reddit | scionoflogic

It's definitely the sort of thing you want to keep in your workshop and make sure it's installed properly, because it's an anti-kickback safety device for a table saw.

"Found in my 2009 Subaru outback, what is it and want does it do?" -waldorf3rd

Reddit | waldorf3rd

I would sure want to know about a keypad hooked up to my car, too. Reddit user DukeMaximum had the answer: it's a starter disabler.

"Basically, when you buy a car at one of those Buy Here Pay Here lots, they put this on the car. Each week the code changes, and you have to make your payment to get the code, or the car won't start."

"I found this little metal thing in a sew kit but it doesn't say what it is or what is it use for, so what is it?" -ADKstamp

Reddit | ADKstamp

Well, it has nothing to do with sewing - it's an ear wax picker. Apparently, there was a time when ear wax would be used to wax thread while sewing? Huh. How about that.

"I moved into a new flat recently and this is in the sun room. It’s attached to the wall, metal, and folds out as shown on the right. The inside is a plastic, like a wipeable surface." -morganfm01

Reddit | morganfm01

I would have thought some sort of laundry table or changing table, but it's called a secretary table. I suppose there's always a chance a secretary might have ironed some laundry on something like this in the past, though.

"what can i say? don't know what it is. wife using it it like regular scissors." -handofthelemur

Reddit | handofthelemur

I'm guessing some folks on the East Coast nailed this right away - they're scissors for eating seafood, particularly lobster. Why you would have these and not know exactly what they're for is another question entirely.

"Found in a school. Closed glass bulb with another bulb inside. Electrodes on top and to the side. The one on top has a flat surface inside." -frietchinees69

Reddit | frietchinees69

This is a relic from another time, a device called a Crooke's Butterfly Discharge Tube, which was used to demonstrate the wonders of electricity.

The butterfly was decorated with fluorescent paint that would light up spectacularly when current passed through it.

"What are these things I keep seeing on nearly all the London bus stops in my area?" -4tunabrix

Reddit | 4tunabrix

Turns out they're potato art! Yes, they're decorated potatoes left often at bus stops by an unknown artist. A little strange maybe, but they bring a pop of colour and some fun, so I hope they keep comin',

"A friend received this as a wedding gift many years ago. The gifter wouldn't tell him what it is for. Any ideas?" -badwhiskey63

Reddit | badwhiskey63

For how weird and mysterious the gifter was being, it's pretty innocuous. It's a cheese holder, used so you can cut cheese without directly handling the block.

"Saw on my flight to cali, no idea how to google it." -ddIuTTuIbb

Reddit | ddIuTTuIbb

Why yes, this does look like a secret alien base, but it's actually a concentrated solar power plant. Using mirrors, light is reflected towards a tower in the middle, which is then converted to heat energy which drives a heat engine.

"My wife got this as a white elephant. Calendar?" -doctor_no_one

Reddit | doctor_no_one

Ding ding ding! This user's guess was correct, for this is a Himalayan calendar! The outermost ring displays the month, followed by two rings used to display the day, and the final four rings show the year. This calendar can be used infinitely, as it has the full number range for every year!

"My daughter is convinced she found a shark tooth, picked up at the beach in Castelldefels, Spain." -FX2000

Reddit | FX2000

While not a shark tooth, it's still pretty cool. It's a quartz vein, hosted in jasper, which is the darker substance at the top. The user who gave this info said there's no harm in her continuing to think it's a shark tooth though, especially if it gets her into learning more about animals or fossils!

"Plaque with numbers inscribed on it. Found on the sidewalk outside a building at my university." -hadsecks

Reddit | hadsecks

This is called a magic square. Magic squares are a mathematical design in which every row and every column adds up to the same number. This one is particularly special though. It's called Chautisa Yantra, and not only do the rows and columns add up to the same number, but so do the diagonals and every subsquare of four!

"What in the absolute **** is ON MY CAR." -iChickk

Reddit | iChickk

I don't blame them for being passionate, this is a freaky thing to see. It's a spiny oak-slug caterpillar, but it's carrying the eggs for a parasitic wasp species called the braconid wasp.

"Have no idea what this is, I got it from a picker who also didn’t know, it’s made of wood, has no wear marks like it was used as a tool. Any ideas?" -Joejayce

Reddit | Joejayce

While these look like super inefficient brass knuckles, it's actually a physical therapy tool. It's a type of splint to help prevent contracture and skin breakdown in hands following neurological damage.

"Found a rock on the porch of my new home, flipped it over and saw this. Is that a fossil?" -livefast_dieawesome

Reddit | livefast_dieawesome

This user's hopes were realized when told that it is indeed a fossil, but not a standard one like bones or shells. This is a tree trunk impression, likely of a lycopsids, which were giant coal age trees.

"What is this random structure I found in the middle of the forest?" -me_using_reddit

Reddit | me_using_reddit

Ominous looking and ominous history, this is a WW2 era one-man bomb shelter. Some have been transferred to museums, but some were simply left in place, likely not worth the trouble of transporting.

"This pole suddenly popped up in my local park, anyone know what it is?" -missnumbers

Reddit | missnumbers

This looks like it could pass off as strange modern art, but it does have a practical use. The small spiny thing hanging down like a light is a laser sensor, and the rest is just the support needed to get it up there and keep it protected.

"Walked past this many times while in Berlin and still can't figure out what it is."


No, it's not a weird traffic light, it's a clock! It's a Mengenlehreuhr, or Set Theory Clock. The top circle counts seconds, the first row counts five hours for each light, the second hour counts one hour, the third row counts five minutes, and the bottom row counts one minute. With these instructions, this clock reads 11:41 AM!

"Weird seedlike things showing up in roomie's bed." -sprinklerarms

Reddit | sprinklerarms

What could have lead to scary news about a type of infestation ended up fine. These are seeds used in buckwheat pillows, it's likely the roommate had one and a hole had formed in it.

"My biology teacher said she found this on some water with algae under the microscope. In 30 years of teaching she never saw something similar... what the hell is this then?" -ToThePowerOfScience

Reddit | ToThePowerOfScience

To me it looks like a very tiny frog, but I'm a little off. This is an exuvia, or exoskeleton, of an insect larvae that was left behind after a molt.

"Found this in my house. I bet my wife it has something to do with a tie. Do I win?" -Ymmy805

Reddit | Ymmy805

Unfortunately this user didn't win their bet. They're actually really, really far off. This is a hoof pick used to clean horse hooves. I hope you're not using this on your tie.

"That metal fork that was found in the dirty dishes, covered in blue goo with chemically-metallic smell. It was in the bowl with leftovers of the salad made of: white cabbage, apples, sunflower oil and a bit of salt, sugar and apple sider vinegar. What is that goo?" -Pixe1one

Reddit | Pixe1one

The key ingredients here are the salt and the vinegar, as well as some copper in the fork - as someone identified, those are what go into making a nice blue-green patina for copper.

"It appears to hang on the wall since it has a flat back and a hole to hang from. It doesn't seem very sealed at the seams, so not sure if its actually a pipe. Metal is thin. It doesn't seem like anything was burned in it (incense or otherwise). Liquids would drain right out with the stem so low." -deciderofthings

Reddit | deciderofthings

That's a vintage snotneus oil lamp, and with a name like that, it's wonder these didn't catch on, isn't it.

"I found this squishy thing in my Monster coffee. I don't know what it is and I'm pretty grossed out." - Parrmesan

Reddit | Parrmesan

Which is definitely not the wrong reaction to finding a pale squishy chunk of something in your drink. One of the drink's ingredients, like the sweetener, xanthan gum, or possibly the milk solids fell out of solution and gelled.

So it's likely harmless, but still not exactly appetizing.

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