22 Times People Were Confused, But The Internet Had Their Backs

What did we do before the internet?

Find a crazy bug in your attic? Well, I guess you'll just have to kill it with fire because there's no Google to ask. Or, you could hire a professional — if that's your thing.

But these days, all you need to do is look online — and if your Google-fu isn't strong, Reddit has your back.

1. In the new St. Petersburg subway cars, there were strange new contraptions.

Reddit | 1ailill

They kind of look like ironing boards, but they don't fold down, and they have seat belts near the bottom.

So of course, user 1ailill asked Reddit to help them understand.

Turns out that they are backrests for wheelchair users.

Rica | Rica

By backing their chair up to one, the rider can use the seat belt to secure themselves in place and enjoy a safe, comfortable ride.

They are also handy for parents with strollers, providing more security than the built-in brakes.

2. If I came across a big patch of strange fungi while walking my dog, I'd be curious, too. 

Reddit | SunflowerQeen

Luckily, these Fairy inkcap mushrooms aren't poisonous. They start with transparent white caps before turning gray, and crumble when touched. Though technically edible, they aren't known for their flavor.

3. This blue creature with a little sail washed up on a Vancouver beach.

Reddit | amauryt

It's a Velella, an ocean creature that lives on the surface of the water. The sail on its back catches the wind, moving it about the ocean as it feeds on plankton in the water below.

4. These small metal containers were found in a junk drawer.

Reddit | elleness

Commenters quickly recognized them as vintage lubricators. Filled with oil, the metal is just soft enough that you could press your thumb against the oval on the body and get a few drops for your sewing machine, hinges, etc.

5. A set of springy metal combs had no label or identifying features, but Reddit wasn't stumped.

Reddit | artisandesarts

The combs are meant to be used to create faux wood finishes on walls or furniture. Just scrape along wet paint or stain. These days, the same tools are usually made of plastic or rubber.

6. Beaches really are the best places to find the weirdest things.

Reddit | GoodLinguine

This is apparently a sea cucumber, making me seriously question how people ever thought they looked enough like cucumbers to name them after the veggie.

7. These curious posts are found throughout Crystal River, Florida.

Reddit | paradoxicalstatement

These are the emergency sirens for the Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant. Luckily, they've never been needed, but residents are used to the test alerts happening every Friday at noon.

8. This unusual tool was found hanging in a restaurant, but the owner was also in the dark. 

Reddit | Reddit

Turns out that it's a tool specially made for balancing a cone of sugar over a punch bowl for the German beverage, Feuerzangenbowle.

I think I need to get on this because it involves fire!

Wikimedia Commons | Thorsten Hartmann

Once you have a steaming mixture of spiced wine, the tool is placed over the bowl with the sugar cone balancing on it. Then, you soak the sugar in rum and set the whole cone on fire.

The sugar caramelizes and drips down into the wine — which sounds delicious!

9. This piece of sea glass has an old-timey face embossed on it.

Reddit | greybun

It didn't take long for it to be identified as Harry E. Wilkens, whose face was emblazoned on the glass bottles of Wilkens Whiskey in the early half of the 20th century.

10. "Found among my dad's old things in between some broken computer hard drives," explained one Reddit user. 

Reddit | Reddit

It's a heliograph, or signal mirror, used in WWII to send messages by reflecting the sun in specific patterns such as Morse code.

11. "Saw this bit of 'fluff' floating around in my garden. Turns out it's alive! What is it?" asked think_and_wonder.

Reddit | think_and_wonder

Meet the Woolly Alder Aphid, possibly the cutest bug I've ever seen. They're sometimes called Maple Blight Aphids because the trees look covered in fuzz as the bugs feed on the sap. Don't worry, though — they don't harm the trees.

12. This guy is six feet tall, which is a pretty good way to show the scale of this screw.  

Reddit | BeurredeTortue

It was found while cleaning the shop and was quickly identified as an extruder screw for injection moulding. Those cost a pretty penny, so if they don't need it, they can sell it for a good profit.

13. "Found on my grandfather's tool bench," said iOverthoughtThat.

Reddit | iOverthoughtThat

"Thought it might be a sharpening stone, but that just abrades the surface. Readily absorbs machine oil and Windex."

He was most of the way there. It is a sharpening stone, but one meant to be used after soaking in water or oil. I have one just like it for sharpening my kitchen knives.

14. This old tower stands near Reddit user Ketchupifucan's workplace, but they didn't know what it was for.

Reddit | Ketchupifucan

It's an old microwave tower, part of the first wireless system for telephone and television broadcasts. The system has long been replaced with new technologies, but many towers still stand.

15. This strange utensil is a great example of how weird Victorians were about food.

Reddit | AVLSmell

A person wasn't meant to touch food, meaning that everything needed a specialized tool. This specific one is made for serving slices of tomato. Yep, just tomatoes.

16. Sometimes, you just want to know what the tasty candy you just ate was.

Reddit | cannibalaj

After trying them at a Chinese restaurant, cannibalaj now knows that he can find similar ones on Amazon. They're guava flavored, which sounds very tasty.

17. "What's living in this hole in my yard? Central Maryland. Hole's about the size of a quarter." —imriebelow

Reddit | imriebelow

I would have been hoping that it was something cute. But no, it's most likely the burrow of a Carolina Wolf Spider.


18. User owiseone23 wondered what kind of turtle this was, and what it was doing to the dirt.

Reddit | owiseone23

It's a common snapping turtle, which may seem like a letdown, but they did catch the turtle in the act of laying eggs, which is pretty cool.

19. This "snake-like" thing in the grass is actually a caterpillar.

Reddit | Ninja_Slayer426

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, in fact. What looks like eyes are actually just spots on its body that are meant to help camouflage it from predators. I'd say it works pretty well since snakes are scarier than caterpillars.

20. This neat instrument has four strings and a bunch of typewriter-like keys.

Reddit | Justanormalasian

It's a Taishogoto, a Japanese stringed instrument that first appeared between 1912-1926 (the Taisho period). By pressing the keys, the pitch of the strings can be changed while the musician strums.

21. "Found this heavy iron plate picture in my grandparents basement (Cologne). Can anyone identify the text or heritage?" —sleeplong

Reddit | sleeplong

While the exact use of the plate is still unconfirmed, Reddit did manage to identify that the piece is depicting the story of the Samaritan woman at the well from the Gospel of John, chapter 4.

22. Reddit user OuchYouHitMe was justifiably baffled by what they "found hanging under a bridge."

Reddit | OuchYouHitMe

Turns out that "magnet fishing" is a thing. People toss a line with a powerful magnet into the water. Kind of like metal detecting, but wetter and without the beeps.

No word on what the magnet has captured or why it's just hanging there.

Would you have been able to identify any of these things?