30+ Times People Asked The Internet “What Is This Thing?” And The Internet Delivered

The internet isn’t always people yelling at each other. Sometimes, people come together to solve problems, whether they find a septic tank in their backyard and need help identifying it or if they find a microchip in their food.

Either way, someone has an answer.

Maybe I’m lucky, but the coolest thing I’ve ever found was an onion ring in my fries and I didn’t need help identifying it.

If you discover an object and you don’t know what it is, this online group is the perfect place to go for help.

1. What is this thing in front of this door? A friend posted it on Facebook and no one is sure yet. Broad Ripple, Indiana.


Answer: A dam for floodwaters. The nearby public garage has concrete barriers that rise out of the sidewalk in case of a flood.

I’ve seen this, and it’s left in place 24/7. The door is a side exit, so it’s rarely used, but I assume it’s one of the required emergency exits. What if a wheelchair user needs it in an emergency?

2. Plastic and hollow, the size of a big SUV, the tide never reaches it, attached to the ground.


Answer: Large Ship bumper/fender. They are Used to keep huge ships from smashing into the pier. It must have washed up during a storm.

3. Someone gave this to my friend and said it was a vibrator. It does indeed vibrate the black knob when plugged in. Is this real??


Answer: Very old-school personal massager. Where you place it is, well, a personal preference indeed.

4. Ammunition with a weird shiny tip, could be 30mm? Worried If inert or not. Found on a glacier in Swiss.


Answer: Artillery expert here.

What you have there is a projectile from the 35x228mm Oerlikon Flab Kan 63/90 (Same gun that is on the Flugabwehrkanonenpanzer Gepard).

From the fact it has an aluminum dummy fuze (the large cutouts make it obvious there is not enough space for the fuze mechanism) and it looked like it was painted bluish-grey, that makes it an “Übungsgranate” – a Target Practice shot. Be advised that doesn’t mean it’s inert, because even a TP shot can have active pyrotechnic devices like tracers and I can’t see the bottom of it.

My advice, is, as always, call EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal, AKA the “bomb squad”) and they’ll sort it for you because you don’t do demining over the internet.

5. This wooden bench with big screws of either size repurposed into a basin desk in a toilet in a brewery in the UK


Answer: It’s an old woodworker’s bench.

6. A white cubicle with a black glass screen and a control panel on top.


Answer: It’s a portable steam room.

7. Pair of Rocket launcher-looking tube devices found in woodland near Dewsbury, UK.


Answer: It’s a LAW 80 Light Anti-Tank Tube.

Guess they have been outside for a while looking at the rust. but report it to the police or nearest army base. a couple of poor soldiers will be getting yelled at tonight.

8. Flying over an area outside of Tucson we saw this hole and it looks like it has water in it.


Answer: It’s an open-pit mine, the spiral you see is the actual road trucks drive on to transport the materials mined from the bottom to the top. I’ve driven a service truck down a road like this a few years ago to fix a broken down quarry truck at the bottom. Albeit, it was a much smaller mine than this, this is huge.

9. Found this “key” on the ground at work (hospital). Doesn’t match any that we’re given. Thin metal, with a small slit in the top.


Answer: It’s a “jiggler key.” A key rake for picking locks.

10. What is this thing hanging outside my fireplace? It seems to have gears inside of it and pivots into the fireplace.


Answer: It’s a clockwork spit turner for turning a roast or other meat automatically.

Also known as a spit jack. The meat was hung, the spit jack cranked up, and then the arm/hinge turned until the meat was roasting beside the fire (not over), and it was set to turn the meat so that each side was equally cooked without having to be attended by anyone.

11. What is this ship/vessel spewing off the coast of Portugal?


Answer: It’s dredging. Either to clean the seafloor or to make new land where it’s dumping the sand. It’s also used to make space for larger vessels, but this doesn’t seem like a shipping route, given the massive rocks on the right.

12. A very light glass tube with a hole at the top and a thinner, upwards bending tube coming out from one side. Found in my grandpa‘s attic in Switzerland.


Answer: It’s an old-time asthma inhaler, there would have been a rubber squeeze bulb on the fitting at the right, here’s a similar one.

13. Heavy, Metal, Found in a Collection of Old Kitchen Things, HMO on the Larger Piece


Answer: It’s a nutcracker.

14. Found in family members workshop, appears to be cast steel or iron, hand for scale.


Answer: It’s a vintage mailbag hook for holding large bags/sacks open when you fill them.

Four hooks are slid onto a square rack. The weight at the bottom holds the hooks facing up and the bags have grommets on them around the opening that you slide onto the hooks. When you want to take the bag off, just flip the weight up and the bag falls off.

15. About 4″ high. Lever lifts up and can be unwound from the cylinder which is leather covered and has a company name on it. Made in England.


Answer: It’s a bottle stopper, possibly for wine/port but more likely a personal decanter

Not expanding which makes sense if it’s decanting, leather is gentle on glass (when you’d throw away wine bottles, you wouldn’t your decanter), also a bit too big for wine bottles

16. What are these solid white domes of varying sizes the one pictured here is about a meter high and meter wide though some were bigger? Found all over the Andalusian region of Spain. They’re solid with no openings and seem to be made of some sort of solid rendered material maybe concrete.


Answer: Property markers that are used to mark boundaries of a terrain/land in a permanent and visible way. Fences can be easily relocated or destroyed.

17. In someone’s front yard in Utah. A few neighbors had them. Holes were drilled into certain squares in the grid.


Answer: I have seen rocks like these near mining towns, similar to this. It’s to memorialize participation and winning in some competition (similar to how you are driving into a small town and they have a big sign that says “State 2A Footfall Champions 1949, 1950, 1954, 1966; State 2A Baseball Champions 1964, 1965”; etc.) The holes are supposed to be reminiscent of mining boreholes. Not sure what specifically this rock is supposed to represent.

18. A kitchen utensil with a wooden handle, attached to a round metal cup with 3 spikes (with holes in)


Answer: It’s a funnel for making a Portuguese sweet called fios de ovos or egg threads.

19. This looks like a typewriter but the letters are in alphabetical order.


Answer: It’s a keyboard panel from a tabletop jukebox selector. Like this.

20. A large capsule-like device found in a London food court. There were 6 of them all in close proximity to each other and were all entirely silent. Probably about a foot long and 6 inches in diameter.


Answer: It’s a speaker. Example.

21. Steel pot with bamboo handle, a glass top, and a removable central column with some kind of ‘filter’?


Answer: It’s a stove-top coffee percolator.

22. Metal structure on top of Flat Top Mountain in Utah. South-facing solar panel with antennas on the north side. Interestingly enough, it has a button on the outside that activates a bell inside the structure when pressed. Picture of external control panel included.


Answer: It’s a radio repeater station for VHF/UHF and possibly other bands (based on the warn out labels on the side)

Essentially it allows radios to talk over a longer distance. Similar looking one here.

23. What is this cast-iron contraption with a cage and a magnifying glass?


Answer: It’s an “orchid viewer” with a magnifying glass attached.

24. This lightweight plastic accessory that came with a new adjustable standing desk.


Answer: It’s designed for you to place your pens and your smartphone in it.

25. Tunnel near train tracks, about 4 feet tall and wet


Answer: It’s a drainage for the railroad over top of it.

26. Large hollow “eggs”? Most of them are the size of a cantaloupe. They have holes drilled in the top of them with some writing which is too faded to make out.


Answer: They’re Ostrich eggs. The holes were made to blow out the yolk and white.

27. Unsure what this thing is that’s sticking out of my tire? It’s small, about the size of a battery. Looks like maybe it has a drill bit or bullet?? It’s letting air out of the tire. CAA & family doesn’t know what it is either. We drove through a construction site but not sure if it’s from that?


Answer: It’s a bit holder for an impact gun.

28. Yellow NWA Zipper Bag found hidden in the wall of the basement. Approximately 3 feet tall with heavy black zipper on top.


Answer: It’s a Northwest Airlines ballast bag. Would normally be filled with sand at 50 pounds. Some airlines still use them but most have switched to rubber bars instead. The bags tend to leak out the sand which makes them lighter or the sand gets wet making it heavier.

29. A strange metal container with a lock and a hole in the front and the word ‘Nelson’ on it. The back has a dial reading just under 22 with no units.


Answer: It’s a lock that is used on shipping containers. When the pin is inserted and it’s locked, there is nothing exposed that can be cut. Like this.

30. Glass hollow oval with clear glass stopper and three glass legs. It has an indentation on the bottom with a hole in the middle of it. What is this?



31. ‘Found In A House I Moved Into. The Chain Has Two Corks Attached On Either End’

Answered by u/rblue:

It is for wine. Ice goes in the little side container to keep it cold.

Answered by u/handlessuck:

A household staple of the ’70s. This very item.

Answer: It’s a fly/wasp trap. You add sugary water to the inside, put the stopper in, and then the wasps fly in through the hole in the base, but can’t get out again.

32. ‘Found This Glass Like Tube “Shell” Washed Up On A Beach In North Caroline…’

Answer by u/adube1320:

Stingray teeth.

31. What is this thing growing in my apartment?

Answered by u/Brave-Flight-7178:

You need to call your landlord. That will make you sick.

Answered by u/lahlahs-lands:

Do not touch that.

Years ago when my daughter was a newborn and upstairs apartment also had a newborn and they were constantly sick. Long story short, the upstairs baby boy passed away from a toxic mold  [just like that which grew in the vents.] The coroner said if a healthy body builder huge man touched a piece of that mold it’s 9/10 fatal.

Please don’t touch that. Get out ASAP and all pets as well. Get next to an air purifier and seriously go breathe in some steam with lemon and ginger and aloe. Whatever citrus, any healthy herbs please. Clean your lungs somehow.

Make an appointment with your doctor please.

This is not good at all. Not even a little bit.


Nate Armbruster

Nate Armbruster is a stand-up comedian and writer based in Chicago who is likely writing a joke as you read this. Find him online at natecomedy.com.