45 Curious Finds The Internet Was Able To Help Identify For People

Are you the kind of person who has an insatiable curiosity to find out just what the heck that one random thing actually is?

Friend, you need to spend some time over at r/whatisthisthing. The expert eyes on that subreddit are practically guaranteed to help you figure out an object's purpose. If they're not able to, well, then you've got a true mystery on your hands.

Found on a beach in New Jersey.

Reddit | ThereIsOnlyOneTodd

These big rusty metal buckets are pretty sizable and partially filled with sand. Turns out they're, well, sand buckets. They're designed to sift through sand to filter out foreign objects.

"Open" post found in the U.S.

Reddit | shinyflip

The year on this thing dates it to 1941. It's an old version of a post indicator valve, which supplies sprinkler systems. The "open" marker on it probably isn't true anymore.

Curio from a pawn shop.

Reddit | BulbasaurGod_20_

This wooden board has ten vertical grooves, each one with a small wooden horse in it. If you have a set of dice and some instructions, you can properly play this horse racing game as it was originally intended.

Big missile-looking thing in Russia.

Reddit | Cryostasis23

A beach-goer on Russia's Don River spotted this object, which is actually a distillation column for refining crude oil. When installed at its eventual location, it'll be vertically oriented.

Heavy object fell from the sky.

Reddit | 0resutidder

This is a ratchet wheel from the anchor winch of a ship. As for why it came from the sky, it's possible that the winch fell apart mid-motion, which could have propelled this heavy metal high into the sky.

Rotary phone dial with no phone.

Reddit | TaubeJona

Plenty of people can still recognize a rotary phone dial, but there's no handset attached to this. It's likely a way for old, non-touchtone phone lines to interface with a computer.

Found in a hollowed-out book.

Reddit | Im-A-Scared-Child

This impressive-looking, secretive medal was awarded to its owner for providing fifteen years of impeccable service in the Soviet Union's Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Smoke ring in the sky.

Reddit | segajennasis

It's a curious sight, but it's indicative of basically one thing and one thing only: a power transformer that's blown. It creates a big puff of smoke that radiates outwards as it rises into the sky.

Celebratory German cones.

Reddit | hullguy1

These odd cones were positioned as an impulse buy at a German grocery store. They're part of a tradition called Schultüte.

In short, on a kid's first day of school, they get one of these cones filled with candy and treats. Pretty sweet!

Heavy bookend.

Reddit | bonelessbooks

This big, heavy bookend serves its function while acting as a cryptic conversation piece. It represents a medicine wheel, specifically one grounded in Incan shamanism.

Perfect circles on the beach.

Reddit | papa_higgins

Anyone who's ever gone digging for clams probably recognizes these holes. In this case, the holes would have been dug by scientists who are studying razor clams, a type of saltwater clam.

Heavy gold weight.

Reddit | Luna0410

No word on whether this heavy charm is actual gold or not, but we at least know what it represents: Giralda Tower, the minaret of a medieval mosque in Seville, Spain.

Weird numerical cubes.

Reddit | BillsFanChick

These cubes are examples of magic squares where the numbers all add up to the same thing whether they're counted horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.

In this case, they represent aspects of Hindu astrology.

Soft stuff from the drywall.

Reddit | PeeperPete

This granular, soft stuff fell out of an old ceiling. It's an example of an old-time type of insulation known as zonolite.

Once common, it's since been phased out because it's chock full of asbestos.

Trapdoor in an 1850s home.

Reddit | bikematt7109

What looks like a secret hiding place in this Charleston, South Carolina home is actually something far simpler: just a door to the crawlspace for anyone who needs to access the house's guts.

Weird device in bottle.

Reddit | water_sign

This is a true antique, as it's dated with the year 1858. It's a type of impossible bottle, which is a bottle containing something that doesn't seem like it should be able to fit.

Washed ashore in Florida.

Reddit | New_Fry

This is a cool device manufactured by a company called Oneka Technologies out of Quebec, Canada. Using the power of waves, it takes seawater, removes the salt, and turns it into fresh water.

Found in a washroom.

Reddit | will592

It looks like a weird vent, but it's actually a magazine rack. When hung like this, an open magazine will hang neatly over the slats. It's specifically known as an umbra illuzine magazine rack.

A medal-like object found in someone's backyard.

Reddit | Lilwest

The house attached to the backyard apparently used to be a carriage house in the 1900s, which led directly to the answer: an old hub cap for a carriage wheel!

Gurney and chamber in a college house basement.

Reddit | yoursnoketheorysux

In a fun turn of events, the person who lived in this house before found the thread and commented. They'd wondered the same thing and actually found out the answer. It was originally a homemade sauna! It looks a little decrepit now, but the house was built in 1911 so that makes sense.

A peculiar knife.

Reddit | lucamot

This is a french fry knife! With two slices of this thing, you end up with perfectly cut fries.

This odd device hanging off a fence.

Reddit | evilbeaver

The uploader added that these metal sleeves could be removed pretty easily, which makes sense considering it's a geocache!

This odd happening found on a biking trail.

Reddit | UAZKI

This thing apparently also produced a foul odor and made a buzzing noise. This contraption is actually a mosquito trap, likely testing the ones caught for West Nile virus.

An old table top game.

Reddit | iuseblenders

Well, it's part of a game. These tables were designed for spinning top games; small pins would be placed around the board with the goal of knocking them down with a top!

This leather...thing someone found in their garage.

Reddit | TheOriginalGPS

Called a "sailor's palm" or "sailmaker's palm," it's a type of thimble meant to help push large, thick needles through tough fabric.

A wooden stand with a cork attached by a chain.

Reddit | alternageek2

This is a visual pun, the joke being that label on the bottom: gozzinta. When said slower, it sounds like "goes into," like a cork goes into a bottle!

Whatever substance has formed on this record.

Reddit | Sweet13pea

As you can see, the jackets were completely destroyed, meaning that the substance is likely rotted paper just sticking to the vinyl.

Unknown characters spotted on an oatmeal packet.

Reddit | NirvanaGuize

If this looks impossible to read, that's because it is. It's a form of stamp that's meant to overstrike and render unreadable any text that's underneath.

"What is this thing we found while renovating? [We haven't] touched it since my dad thinks its an explosive from ww2."


A WWII explosive was right on the money! Not only was it the favored guess, but it was confirmed by the local EOD to be a British two-inch mortar round.

"Are my [parents'] neighbours engaging in psychological warfare? This is attached to a dolly pointed in their yard and sounds a very loud alarm twice a day for 10 minutes."

Reddit | whalegut

Called a vibrating horn, this device is usually used in areas where ambient noise is high, which wouldn't be abnormal in a neighborhood like this. The person who made the guess assumed they did in fact just put it up to be annoying, no real purpose outside of that.

"Dog with little bundles of paper(?) in [its] fur."

Reddit | Stellanboll

This isn't just any standard pooch; this is a show dog! These bundles are used to keep chunks of their fur from dragging on the ground. The same technique is sometimes used for horses and even guinea pigs!

"My grandma found this weird ceramic dog in her yard."

Reddit | Send-Me-Pics-of-Dogs

See that spout at the front? That's for dispensing liquor! A critical piece of this set is missing though: the shot glasses that hang off the spikes in the back, which would likely make its purpose a little more obvious at first glance.

"Found this sewn into the hem of a pillowcase in a hotel."

Reddit | DrKrepz

What may seem a little spooky given the high-surveillance world we live in, this is actually harmless. While it is digital, it's just an RFID to be used at whatever industrial laundry establishment they use so they can identify the owner of this specific pillowcase.

"The dollar on the [bottom] I found [...] looks different then the regular one [...]."

Reddit | Thirstytoad

Though the rest looks pretty convincing, this is definitely a fake bill. The large characters on the left side are to help those in other countries learn about American currency, so it's a teaching tool!

"Metal 3-4 inches, with glass balls."

Reddit | TrinklingRain

A second picture showed it lit up from behind, light shining through the glass and made red. This is an old method of making reflectors for railroads, and a large-scale version of how reflectors are made today, with small glass beads!

"WITT in a lake in Ohio? Drains into a big pipe at the bottom of a hill."

Reddit | canstac

You know that hole near the tops of some sinks to keep the water from overflowing? Same concept. It's an overflow control mechanism to prevent lake waters from getting too high. As for where the water goes, it likely empties into a nearby river system.

"Gift from our neighbor as they were moving out, the 'history' is that it was an old sea mine but what is this thing?"

Reddit | braceforducks

Far less dangerous than a sea mine, this is just an old buoy. Still cool though!

"Found 14 years ago in a hole in a log on Dallas Road Beach in Victoria, BC, Canada. A mystery that remains unsolved."

Reddit | Strathspey

Hard to see in this picture are the tiny numbers inscribed in the holes. This strange find is actually part of an art installation by artist Diana Lynn Thompson entitled "2nd nature." Over 2000 of these stones were made, each one marked, thus explaining the numbers on them!

"Found in Atlantic Canada. [...] It is magnetic."

Reddit | strongerthrulife

A geoscientist actually came into the thread to explain that this is a slag, citing the density, luster, color, and the popped vesicles along the side — as well as the fact that they've seen thousands of slags — for their confident answer on the matter.

"Roommate found behind the wall during a front porch remodel in a Minneapolis home. There’s a hole on one end and closed on the other end."

Reddit | mister_watanabe

A bit of a sombre find, this is a tear vial. Used since Roman times but popularized again during the Civil War, "These vials were used to collect the tears one wept for a loved one who died, and when the bottle was full, or after a year, the tears would be poured over the grave site."

"What is this cardboard chip used for? Found in a Geocache in Sweden."

Reddit | clamconfetti

I know some people will recognize this right off the bat: This is a pog! If you don't know, it's a game from the '90s that involved flipping these cardboard chips, but the chips themselves became a collection for many people!

"What’s the purpose of this hole in the wall in the house I am renting?"

Reddit | alliegaterrr

There was no definitive answer for this one, but the best guess was that there used to be a heater there that was removed when central heating was installed. Instead of filling in the wall, they just left a hole.

Found in a can of mushrooms.

Reddit | jackson_893

Someone found what looks like a wire casing inside this can. As it turns out, that's exactly what it is. It goes without saying that any food containing something like this isn't exactly sanitary.

"It’s heavy metal (brass?) and the dial on it slides."

Reddit | sxviet

This is an astronomy tool called Gunter's quadrant. "This instrument is used to find the hour of the day, the sun's azimuth, etc., and other common problems of the sphere or globe, and also to take the altitude of an object in degrees."

Found in a bag.


These little plastic charms are identifiable as being shaped like baby pacifiers. They could be used for anything that might necessitate tiny replica baby pacifiers, but that "anything" is usually a baby shower, naturally.