40 Times People Didn’t Know What They Were Looking At And Were Helped By Internet Detectives

Published 5 years ago

Back in the old days, when you found a thing you didn’t recognize, you had to either hope your parents or teachers know what on Earth it is, or spend hours looking through various encyclopedias in your local library. Thankfully, that is no longer the case and nowadays we have the whole internet at our disposal when it comes to recognizing all sorts of weird and obscure things we happen to stumble upon.

A subreddit called /r/whatisthisthing/ describes itself as “a place to find out what that odd-looking thing that you stumbled across actually is” – and you better believe they’re good at what they do. From Victorian rings to spooky voice recorders, check out the weirdest things internet detectives helped identify in the gallery below! And if you want to see more, check out our previous posts here and here!

More info: Reddit

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#1 I Found This Ring In My Backyard While Doing Gardening. After Cleaning It, It Doesn’t Look Like A Normal Ring. Any Ideas?

Image source: gamer0981

Answer: It’s a Georgian/early Victorian mourning ring. The initials belong to the lost loved one.

They were typically made from gold (18k+) and enameled in black. Yours looks like it was made around 1820s-40s.

#2 Found At Myrtle Beach, Sc. What Is This Thing?

Image source: rinpiels

Answer: that’s a broken megalodon tooth.

#3 What Is This Big Hole That Is Usually Found On Milk Cartons?

Image source: Daniel_Min

Answer: It’s a pressure relief hole. If you dropped it, instead of exploding, the hole would pop out.

#4 Scanning Family Slides From 1964 – This Was Over My Parent’s House In Texas. What Is This Thing?

Image source: TBTurtles

Answer: it’s a residue of a rocket launch. It’s called Twilight effect. It was done right at sunset so the sun lit the vapor/exhaust trail from underneath.

#5 This Weird Wrapped Car. The Lights Were Wrapped In Cloth. Serial Numbers All Around. Anything Significant Or Just Tacky?

Image source: NotoriousJB

Answer: It obscures the car while being test driven, so the yet-to-be-released models are not photographed and published. The random “wave” patterns effectively hide the body contours and lines.

#6 This Was Found By A Cleaner Hidden Under My Dresser In My Bedroom (She Told Me Very Discreetly About This Which Has Me Concerned), I’ve Tried To Google It To No Avail. What Is This Thing?

Image source: M-I-G-Y

Answer: voice recorder, doesn’t transmit using wireless though so whoever placed this thing, will be back. If this was in your home, chances are there are cameras as well.

#7 Saw This Cat In Texas First Thought It Was A Domestic Cat But When We Got Closer That Seemed Less Likely. What Is It?

Image source: BlackoutSentinel

Answer: Black bobcat.

#8 I Saw This In My Yard. Is This Just A Type Of Worm? Or Is There A Parasite On It? (I Saw It Breathing/Have Some Sort Of Heartbeat, So It’s Alive)

Image source: Unlucky__Leprechaun

Answer: that’s two worms making more worms.

#9 Found In My Aunts “Treasure” Collection. Seems Like A Heavy Metal Weight Inside. What Is This Thing?

Image source: wildedgeofficial

Answer: This is a “tracker pebble” used for tracking longshore drift. The pebbles have a serial number, are buried in a location and then refound further down the coast in the shingle by metal detector.

#10 Found This Small Kettle Years Ago. Tried Searching For A Similar One But Have Always Come Up With Nothing. Anybody Have An Idea Why This Has This Unique Shape?

Image source: home_cheese

Answer: a portable men’s urinal for bedbound patients. It is used to pee when you cannot get out of bed.

#11 My Friend Just Moved In To A New Flat And This Is Her Neighbours Garden. What Is This Thing?

Image source: DanBread

Answer: a Voodoo altar

#12 What Is This Random Structure I Found In The Middle Of The Forest?

Image source: me_using_reddit

Answer: a WWII one man bomb shelter.

#13 4in By 4in Scissors. Uncomfortable To Hold, In Either Hand, Two Or Four Fingers. What Is This Thing?

Image source: raybobobob

Answer: they’re childrens’ training scissors. Like for pre-schoolers. The extra holes are so a grown-up can co-scissor and help the kid.

#14 Found In My Dads Room, Really Hoping Its Not A Sex Thing. What Is This Thing?

Image source: Merciman

Answer: it goes over shoes to give grip on ice. They are called yak tracks.

#15 In A Multi Storey Car Park. Is It A Passage For Rats? There Are Also Small Holes In The Floor And Ceiling With A Tiny Ladder Connecting Them

Image source: petermartin2006

Answer: Secret Industry by John Pym: The stairwells and lift lobbies of multistorey car parks are not usually areas where people pause to admire the architecture, so John Pym used this to his advantage. The model walkways and ladders replicate their full-scale counterparts and are a playful way of suggesting an alternative, unseen service industry at work within the building. Superficially mundane, some people may use the car park for years without being aware of their presence, while others will notice straightaway. The artist sees it as a reward for those who look more closely at their surroundings.

#16 What Is The Purpose Of This Mirrors? I Came Across Them In Trosa, Sweden, Near The River. They Are On Almost Every House

Image source: kemcio17

Answer: In Denmark they are called a “gadespejl” It is an old invention, basically a mirror that made it possible to view the street from the comfort of your couch.

#17 This Purple Sky In Southern California Seen At 1:30am And Lasted For Only About 5 Minutes Before Fading Away. What Is This Thing?

Image source: wetspark_

Answer: the glow is related to a commercial cannabis growing operation. That’s the color of grow lights.

#18 Clock In Assisted Living Facility

Image source: SuperFlyStuka

Answer: Bedsore prevention. You would refer to the two hour intervals as a turning schedule.

#19 Took This Picture From My Airplane Window On Trip From Dc To Las Vegas. Any Idea What It Is?

Image source: honeybadger3891

Answer: a mineral mine. It’s the world’s largest lithium deposit.

#20 This Just Trundled Across The Road In Front Of Me, Zoomed Down The Sidewalk Before I Could Get A Better Look At It. Spotted In Melbourne Australia. What Is This Thing?

Image source: Tallands

Answer: it’s an automated delivery, possibly for food.

#21 Found This While Beach Combing In The Olympic Peninsula. I’ve Never Seen Anything Like It. What Is This Thing?

Image source: Fishtails

Answer: Squid eggs.

#22 Noticed This Weird Urinal In A Brauhaus Bathroom In Cologne Germany. What Is This Thing?

Image source: jingjangjones

Answer: it’s called a Papst (german for Pope). It’s for puking.

#23 Looks Suspicious But Has Several Interchangeable Sized Tips And Appears To Have A Purpose. What Is This For?

Image source: simplemath

Answer: It’s a snowman kit.

#24 What Is This Fish With Strange Writing?


Image source: plong42

Answer: The Lucky Iron Fish. I recall hearing that iron deficiency was a serious problem in developing countries due to improper diets that consisted of mostly pastas and rice, which are a poor source of iron.

The solution was to boil chunks of iron with food to increase the iron content but many were skeptical and hesitant to cook with chunks of metal in their food. The iron was shaped into a ‘lucky fish’ that would provided addition health benefits when you boiled water with the fish in it.

#25 All-Wood Things Seen With Someone’s Trash Set Out For Pickup, About 1 Foot High. What Is This Thing?

Image source: sqqueen

Answer: we call em bee hotels, like many people already mentioned, it is for ‘solitary’ bees (solitary because they don’t love/work/do in hives, but clearly, they live close to one another in this setting) although it can also attract many other animals. These things help the ecosystem.

#26 What Is This Signs Purpose?

Image source: spangloss

Answer: It means do not scare the flamingos. Many people would cross that sign to scare them so that they could fly and get a picture.

#27 Silver Capsule Camouflaged Inside A Wooden Container Hanging In A Tree In A Public Park. What Is This Thing?

Image source: fallingfigtree1254

Answer: it’s a geocache. Judging by the size, it’ll likely only have a list inside for people to sign that they found it.

#28 20 Years Of Research And Reddit Is My Last Hope! What Is This Thing?

Image source: XxUFOxX11

Answer: The Black Drum fish fossils. The Black Drum had a short deep body with a high arched back, but a flattish belly. The jaw teeth were small and pointed, but the throat was armed with large, flat, pavement-like teeth with which the drum crushed shellfish, for food. This characteristic separates it from the weakfish and the king fish.

#29 What Is The Purpose Of This Chain?

Image source: FilthySef

Answer: it is a rain chain, an alternative for traditional downspout of a gutter system.

#30 What Is This Paintball Gun Looking Thing Being Used By Police In A Real Life Drug Raid?

Image source: IVIichael

Answer: Pepper Spray Paint Ball gun. Technically it is a paintball gun, however the paintballs it fires have pepper spray powder inside of them. It’s less than lethal defense.

#31 My Mother Left Bleach In Her Sink For About A Week While We Left On Vacation, And We Came Back To This. Is It Mold?

Image source: shadowfallwolf

Answer: the bleach oxidized the metal parts of your sink.

#32 What Are These Perfect Sets Of Beach Holes? Flip Flop For Scale

Image source: papa_higgins

Answer: the remnants of a scientific clam survey.

#33 What Is This Weird Half Truck And Why Is It Pushing A Flatbed Trailer? Is There Any Sort Of Advantage Of Pushing Rather Than Pulling It?

Image source: Ouisha

Answer: Float Plane Mover. This truck’s job is to move planes up and down a boat ramp into the water. Backing up an ordinary truck+trailer combo down a boat ramp is not easy. With this vehicle, the driver can look straight forward down the ramp rather than in his rear-view mirror, and since the steering wheels are at the back it’s easy to align the truck’s bed with the plane. Most trucks only load at a boat ramp once in a while, since this one does only that, it makes sense to design it specifically for that job.

#34 It’s Been Submerged In Water For Years Near A Creek Where I Live. Can’t Google Because I Don’t Know Where To Start. What Is This Thing?

Image source: thrtysmthng

Answer: The Quester, the private submarine built to salvage the Andrea Doria, now in need of salvage itself.

#35 We Had A Party The Other Night And Found This On The Kitchen Counter In The Morning. It Has White Powder In It And The Cap Just Comes Off, It’s Not Secured In Any Way. Bottle Cap For Size Reference. What Is This Thing?

Image source: mporso

Answer: It’s a refill container for a marking tool used in sewing. The tool dispenses a fine line of powdered chalk when drawn across fabric. I have some in several colors.

#36 Bit Into A Mcdonald’s Double Quarter Pounder With A Cheese And Noticed A Chemically Flavor. Opened It Up And Saw This. What Is This!?

Image source: oaktoast

Answer: Former employee, it’s more than likely from their gloves they use to put the meat on the grill.

#37 Falling Out Of The Sky? What Is This Thing?

Image source: FrighteningJibber

Answer: contrails from a passenger plane. Being close to sunset, the vapor clouds are taking on the same color as any other cloud would have under the same late-day sun.

#38 What Are These Blue Tubes That I Keep Seeing In Berlin?

Image source: BrightEyeCameDown

Answer: to transfer groundwater to rivers because of the water level. Since the early 1990’s the groundwater level in Berlin has been rising. Due to lower water consumption the abstraction of groundwater has diminished and the city now has to cope with an extraordinary high level of groundwater.

#39 Found Under A Bed. What Is This Thing?

Image source: Brighteyes907

Answer: small scale meth making device.

#40 Empty Gel Container In A Sealed Coca-Cola Bottle. What Is This Thing?

Image source: ladyofchaos

Answer: Ibuprofen.

Aušrys Uptas

One day, this guy just kind of figured - "I spend most of my time on the internet anyway, why not turn it into a profession?" - and he did! Now he not only gets to browse the latest cat videos and fresh memes every day but also shares them with people all over the world, making sure they stay up to date with everything that's trending on the web. Some things that always pique his interest are old technologies, literature and all sorts of odd vintage goodness. So if you find something that's too bizarre not to share, make sure to hit him up!

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