If you’ve ever found an object you couldn’t identify, you know how hard it is to try to figure out its purpose. You may ask your friends, your relatives, or your co-workers, but chances are if you’ve never seen it before, neither have they. So this is when strangers on the internet come to the rescue. After randomly finding intriguing objects, the following people reached out to the internet to find some answers. Here are some of the most interesting objects people have found and their purpose – according to people who actually know.
“What is this solid metal Kiss that was in our bag of candy cane Kisses?”
It’s used to test quality assurance mechanisms.
It turns out most production lines use objects such as this metal Hershey’s Kiss to check quality assurance mechanisms in order to test their ability to detect and remove any foreign matter in their machinery. This specific Kiss-shaped metal object could have been designed to be detected by visual inspection or by magnets – and slipped by both.
“What is this white globe on top of that building?”
It’s a weather radar.
This weirdly-shaped object is actually just a weather radar in Cabo San Lucas. More specifically, it’s a Doppler weather radar used to detect precipitation, calculate its motion, and estimate whether it is rain, snow, hail, or any other type of precipitation.
“Found this while beachcombing in the Olympic Peninsula. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
These are squid eggs.
While beachcombing in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, this person found an interesting object they described as “a mop head made out of jellyfish.” Immediately after asking online, they got their answer from several people who had also been puzzled when they first saw this strange object in person: it turns out these are squid eggs.
“Went exploring in White Sands, New Mexico, and found an… object. What is it?”
It is half a sphere of a helium pressure tank.
While hiking around the Akali Flat trail, this person found a strange object. Approximately 18 inches in diameter, they explained it was either a full sphere or half of one. So they asked online and got an answer they would have never guessed. According to a retired NASA manager and shuttle engineer, this is half a sphere of a helium pressure tank.
“Found a massive wooden barrel with no lid in the attic of a house from the 1890s. What is it?”
It’s a cistern for water storage.
Cisterns are water storage tanks. Although they are usually built to catch and store rainwater, this attic cistern serves a different purpose. Water is slowly pumped into the barrel and is then used to supply water pressure in the house.
“What is this ring my Uber driver would randomly click?”
It’s a prayer counter.
In some religions, prayers have to be repeated several times a day. While some count on their fingers, others use a string of beads to keep track of how many times they have already said their prayers. This prayer counter device does the same thing: it allows you to count how many times you have repeated the same phrase.
“What is this black metal structure close to shore in Tillamook Bay?”
It’s a floating porta potty for fishermen.
This strange structure floating in Oregon’s Tillamook Bay is something no one would ever have guessed. Located near a popular salmon fishing spot, this floating porta potty provides a place for fishermen to stop and use the restroom without having to come back to the shore.
“Why does this truck have a giant frame around it?”
It’s for carrying things that won’t fit in the truck.
This frame allows you to transport anything that wouldn’t fit inside your truck, such as ladders, scaffolding, canoes, etc. It’s also possible to throw a tarp over the objects if they could get damaged by rain and strap it to the exterior frame. Because of the way the frame is built, you can still easily access the truck bed and doors.
“Mysterious debris found washed ashore on Bermuda beach. Aerospace?”
It’s part of the body of a rocket.
After finding a mysterious object on the beach, this person went to the internet for help. While some people suggested it might have been part of a plane, the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority explained this is actually part of the body of a rocket which was probably washed ashore like similar debris in the past.
“Bit into a Mcdonald’s Double Quarter Pounder and noticed a chemical flavor. Opened it up and saw this. What is this?!”
It’s from the gloves used for raw meat.
According to a former McDonald’s employee, wearing gloves is required when handling raw meat. The blue bits in this burger, then, are actually from the glove used to put the patty on the grill. We are hoping this person only had a single bite of this glove-infused meal!
“What is the purpose of these mirrors? They are on almost every window in Trosa, Sweden.”
They let you view the street from inside.
Known as gadespejl, these street mirrors first appeared around 1850. They are essentially two mirrors mounted on the exterior of a window allowing you to see the street without having to actually go outside. Although it’s an old tradition, these mirrors can still be seen in Denmark and Sweden nowadays.
“What is this weird half-truck and why is it pushing a flatbed trailer?”
It’s a float plane mover.
According to the internet, this truck is used for moving planes up and down a boat ramp into the water. Instead of backing up a regular truck and trailer down a boat ramp (and using a rear-view mirror), this vehicle allows the driver to look straight down the ramp.
“What is this thing on the bar counter at work? It is made of metal and hollow.”
It’s an old countertop bottle opener.
This interesting object is actually just a really cool and old-fashioned bottle opener. There is a small gap behind the metal contraption meant for opening bottles and, after opening, the cap usually falls directly into a special container or, nowadays, a regular trash can.
“These scissors are uncomfortable to hold, in either hand, two or four fingers. What is this thing?”
They’re children’s training scissors.
These odd-looking scissors are training scissors for children and the four holes are meant to be used by two people at the same time. That is, instead of just two holes, these scissors have two extra ones for a grown-up to teach their kid how to use them.
“What was this building in Xiamen, China, used for?”
It’s a blockhouse used for defense purposes.
Blockhouses are small fortifications used to defend points of interest against enemies. While most blockhouses consist of rooms with loopholes for firing in various directions, this seems to be an advanced post for surveillance. Due to erosion, though, this fortification is slowly sliding into the sea.
“This weird wrapped car. The lights were wrapped in cloth. Serial numbers all around. Anything significant or just tacky?”
It’s a new car in testing.
In order to test car prototypes on the street without showing the unreleased models to the public, car manufacturers use random wave patterns to hide the body contours and lines. This is such a simple idea, but it works perfectly. This way, cars are tested in the real world and no one knows what they look like.
“This is on a gate blocking road access to some cell towers. Why so many locks, and how would someone even open it?”
It’s a shared access gate.
This gate can be unlocked using only one padlock. It’s designed so that multiple people can use it with their own individual keys. This way, if one person loses their key, only one padlock needs to be replaced. If many people used the same padlock and one person lost their key, everyone who has access to the gate would need a new one.
“What is this rusty green aircraft at Heathrow Airport?”
It’s an aircraft fire trainer.
This interesting aircraft is used by the airport fire brigade to practice putting out fires and rescuing passengers. During fire training, the fire brigade not only learns several techniques for putting out fires, but also goes inside the aircraft in full gear, in total darkness, and searches along the walls to retrieve sandbags.
“Found this metal ball at a psych asylum that was abandoned roughly 40 years ago.”
It’s a cast-iron gate closer weight.
Wow, that’s a mouthful. This metal ball and chain were used for closing gates. By attaching this gate closer to the inside of your outward-opening gate, you would always know your gate was closed behind you. Such a clever solution to an annoying problem!
“I found this in a box of miscellaneous stuff from a deceased relative. Is it jewelry?”
It’s a corsage pin.
To be more specific, it’s a boutonniere pin. While corsages are typically worn by women on the left side of their chest or on their wrist, boutonnieres are worn by men on their left lapel. This pin, specifically, is meant to hold the boutonniere in place.
“Found at Myrtle Beach, SC. What is this thing?”
That’s a broken megalodon tooth.
Out of all the things people have accidentally found at the beach, we will have to say this must be the coolest. Megalodons were a species of mackerel shark that lived from the Early Miocene to the Pliocene epochs, that is, 23 to 3.6 million years ago. So what are the chances of somebody randomly finding a megalodon tooth on the shore nowadays?! So cool!
“What is this hard clear plastic thing?”
It was a cup that got melted in the dishwasher.
After finding a weird plastic object in their dishwasher, this person reached out to the internet for help. They explained it was made of hard, clear plastic, but had no idea what its purpose was. According to the internet, it was originally a drinking cup or insert that shouldn’t have gone in the dishwasher.
“Found underneath the seat on the train, seems to be a windowed container filled with sawdust?”
It’s a sandbox.
After staring at this strange window underneath a train seat for way too long, this person decided to take a picture of it and ask the internet what it was filled it. It turns out it is actually a container known as a sandbox, which drops sand on the rail in front of the wheels to improve traction for emergency brakes and in slippery conditions.
“Friend found at Goodwill. Tool belt of some kind. Does anyone know the specific use?”
It’s a fishing rod holder belt.
As weird as this object might look, it actually serves a very impressive purpose. It is a belt used to hold fishing rods. According to fishing enthusiasts on the internet, it makes fishing a lot more comfortable because it allows you to put less effort into reeling and pulling the line back.
“What is this thing?”
It’s a lemon squeezer.
With a tape measure for scale, this person shared a picture of this odd-looking tool they found in order to figure out what it was. According to the internet, the strange object was not so weird after all: it is actually just a simple handheld lemon squeezer.
“There are multiples around the mall. Possibly a detector or something but it looks like it can release something.”
It’s a precision fire extinguisher.
Well, this person wasn’t completely wrong. This strange-looking object does actually release something. It continuously scans the protection zone so that when a fire occurs, it positions its fire point and puts out the fire.
“What is the purpose of this large enclosure at O’Hare airport?”
It’s a blast wall.
If you’ve ever flown from or to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, this strange structure might seem familiar to you. It turns out this is a blast wall built so engines can be tested without blowing everything around it away. Pretty clever, if you ask us.
“Wooden thing about 3′ tall with a metal crank on the right side. It makes quite the noise when cranked. What is it?”
It’s a noise maker.
There is a reason why this object is so noisy: it is actually just a noise maker. Essentially a music box, this object allows you to create specific sounds for different purposes. It is particularly useful for live theater or movies to recreate all kinds of ambient sounds.
“Found this mystery item in my pub. What is it?”
It’s a sailmaker’s palm.
If you also had absolutely no idea what you were looking at, allow us to explain. This object is known as a sailmaker’s palm. Similar to a thimble, it is used to help sailors sew sails together and push the needle through thick fabric without hurting their hands.
What is the purpose of this chain?
It’s a rain chain.
This strange chain wasn’t attached to this house by accident, it is actually there for a reason. Used as an alternative to traditional gutter downspouts, rain chains help direct water away from your home. These are widely used in Japan but can also be found in the West.
“What are the small, pull-out panels at the bottom of this Victorian display cabinet?”
They are used for pouring drinks from the bottles stored inside the cabinet.
This piece of furniture is actually only the top part of a larger cabinet – so these pull-out panels were originally at table height. Made to store liquor, this cabinet has pull-out panels to allow people to pour themselves drinks from the bottles inside it.
“What is this fish with strange writing?”
It’s a lucky iron fish.
This cast iron ingot is known as a lucky iron fish and it’s used to provide dietary supplementation to people with iron deficiency. Basically, it is boiled with food in order to increase its iron content. This solution is especially useful in countries where people’s diets consist mainly of noodles and rice, as these are poor sources of iron.
“What is this random structure I found in the middle of the forest?”
It’s a one-person bunker.
Known as a Splitterschutzzelle (“splinter protection cell”, in English), this is a one-man bomb shelter from WWII. These cylindrical structures are usually made of reinforced concrete and are designed to protect a single person from shell splinters.
“What are these blue tubes that I keep seeing in Berlin?”
They transfer groundwater to rivers to keep the water level from rising.
Since the 1990s, groundwater levels in Berlin have been rising. The solution to the lower water consumption rates was getting rid of the extra groundwater. These blue pipes do just that: they transfer groundwater to nearby rivers to keep the water level from rising.
“What is this conical metal thing next to the door? Found in southern England.”
It’s a link extinguisher.
Before the introduction of gas lighting in the early 19th century, linkboys would carry a flaming torch to light the way for pedestrians at night. Their torches were made from burning pitch and tow. Similar to candle snuffers, link extinguishers outside of people’s houses were used to put out these torches.
“Found this sewn into the hem of a pillowcase in a hotel. Is it a camera?”
It’s an RFID tag for identifying the owner at the laundry place.
Although it might look like a tiny camera or microphone, this small object sewn into the hem of this hotel pillowcase is just an RFID tag. It is simply used for identification purposes at the industrial laundry place where it gets professionally cleaned so it can be returned to the right hotel.
“Found this iron ‘needle’ with Arabic writing in a canal while magnet fishing.”
It’s a 19th-century iron nail for protection from evil spirits.
From Indo-Persian origins, this iron nail dates back to the 19th century. Objects like this square-sided nail inscribed with Quranic verses were traditionally placed at the corners of houses for the purpose of providing protection from evil spirits.
“This came with my new computer keyboard, no idea what it does.”
It’s a keycap puller.
Back in our day, computer keyboards didn’t come with any extra tools or devices, so we definitely understand this person’s confusion. It turns out some keyboards nowadays come with keycap pullers for removing and replacing keys when necessary.
“Found this in my dad’s room. What is this thing?”
These are ice grippers.
This strange device is meant to go over your shoes to give you a better grip on ice. Designed as slip-on traction devices for all kinds of shoes and boots, they are also easy to carry in your bag in case it ends up snowing or the ground is icier than you expected when leaving the house.
“What is this tool? Has stumped antique dealers for years and even stumped four Antiques Roadshow appraisers yesterday.”
It’s a carpet stretcher.
After years of trying to solve this mystery, this person finally decided to ask strangers on the internet for help. It turns out this puzzling tool was simply an antique carpet stretcher! Patented in 1860, the tool might not be as efficient as modern ones – but it is definitely fascinating.
“Found inside the white of an egg. Are these more, future eggs that unfortunately got inside another egg?”
It’s calcium deposits.
Calcium deposits can happen for a few reasons: the shell gland could be defective, the chicken could have been stressed during the calcification process as the egg was being formed, or it could have been fed too much calcium and/or vitamin D.
“Bought this for $2.99 from Goodwill.”
This is $50,000 in US banknotes.
How interesting is this?! Apparently, you can buy money domes with scraps of thousands of dollars withdrawn from circulation. The text on the object explains it a little better: “This Money Dome contains the chips of approximately $50,000 in genuine United States currency. These chips come from legal tender which has been withdrawn from circulation by the Federal Reserve System as officially authorized by the Department of the Treasury.”
“Found in my aunt’s ‘treasure’ collection. Seems like a heavy metal weight inside.”
It’s a tracer pebble.
Used for tracking longshore drift, this object is known as a tracer pebble. Each pebble is marked with a serial number and contains a large piece of copper rod. They are buried in a specific location and found later further down the coast with the help of a metal detector.
“What are these perfect sets of beach holes?”
They’re the remnants of a scientific clam survey.
When this person found these perfectly circular holes on the sand at the beach, they knew they had to be manmade. But what were they? What were they for? After asking the internet for help, they learned that these circles are the remnants of a scientific clam survey.
“Found on a beach on the West coast of Scotland. Pump or turbine part?”
It’s an engine flywheel.
This person found a strange object on a beach on the west coast of Scotland and figured it could be part of a wreck from WWII in the seas surrounding the area. However, despite their belief that this object could be a turbine part, experts on the internet explained it is just a flywheel from an air-cooled small engine.
“Looks suspicious but has several interchangeable-sized tips and appears to have a purpose. What is this for?”
It’s a snowman kit.
How funny is this?! Out of context, it was basically impossible for this person to know this was actually just a snowman kit. The orange is meant for the snowman’s nose, while the black buttons are its eyes, mouth, and shirt buttons.
“What are these metal signs stuck in the ground all over England that have feet and inches stamped into them?”
They’re fire hydrant markers.
After noticing several metal signs in different areas of their country, this person reached out to strangers on the internet for answers to their question. It turns out these metal signs are just markers for underground fire hydrants. The numbers marked on them indicate the size of the water main and the distance from the sign.
“What is this big hole that is usually found on milk cartons?”
It’s a pressure relief hole.
If you’ve ever noticed those large inverted circles in your milk jugs, you have probably wondered what they do. It turns out these concave circles provide structural integrity to the jugs. They prevent the jugs from exploding if dropped on the floor and avoid bursting when the milk expires.
“What is this thing?”
It’s a hole for a vacuum hose.
When this person noticed a strange cap attached to a hole on their wall, they went to the internet for answers. It turns out the hole was meant for a vacuum hose. At some point, this house had a central vacuum that could be accessed through this tiny hole on its baseboard.
“Old mechanical device found in a dumpster. Extremely heavy. Cash register?”
It’s a mechanical calculator.
This extremely heavy object is an old mechanical calculator. More specifically, an Original-Odhner mechanical calculator from the 1950s or 1960s. It’s amazing how technology allowed us to go from this to calculator apps on our phones in only a few decades…
“This was taken this morning. It’s a very odd-shaped cloud, or maybe even a vapor trail. I’m guessing it’s illuminated by the approaching sunrise.”
It was caused by a rocket launch.
This incredible phenomenon was caused by the launch of SpaceX Crew-2 back in April 2021. Since the spacecraft was launched at 5:40 am local time, before sunrise, the sky was illuminated in a very intriguing way. If we had no idea what we were looking at, we would have definitely guessed we were looking at a UFO.
“Took this picture from my airplane window on a trip from DC to Las Vegas. Any idea what it is?”
It’s a mineral mine.
When this person spotted this interesting sight from their airplane window, they knew they had to share this mystery with the world. Although it might look like a make-up palette from above, someone explained this place is something a lot more interesting than a huge set of eyeshadows. In reality, this is a mineral mine.
“20 years of research and this is my last hope! What is this thing?”
It’s a drum fish jaw.
Found on the beach in Pensacola, FL, this object had been puzzling its owner for two whole decades before they figured out what it was. It turns out this is the jaw of a drum fish. If you, like us, didn’t know it, these animals have a set of molar-like teeth at the back of their mouth.
“What would be shipped in this strangely-shaped container?”
This dry shipper transports biological samples at extremely low temperatures.
We know what you’re thinking, but this is not an urn. It turns out this container is actually a dry shipper used to ship specimens at low temperatures in liquid nitrogen. This kind of container is designed for the safe transportation of biological samples at extremely low temperatures.
“Weird hollow lens-shaped things stuck together with no pattern. Found on a beach on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. What is this?”
These are whelk eggs.
This is a sea wash ball comprising a mass of whelk eggs. Usually the same size as a baseball, these objects are often seen attached to rocks or stones in the winter. Depending on their color, you can tell whether there are any eggs still inside them: if they’re pale yellow, there may be some eggs in there, but if they’re gray, they’re empty.
“This hollow bumpy thing was in my quarantine care package. On either end are 5 small holes arranged in a pentagon (which don’t whistle, by the way). What is it?”
It’s a hand massager.
This object comes from the health center on South Korea’s Jeju Island and the text written on it says, “Metropolitan mental health welfare center”. These hand massagers are a traditional type of medicine meant to trigger specific pressure points on your hands which reflect on other parts of your body and relieve stress.
“This thing was mounted to a wall in a shed, ‘fingers’ up, at eye level. What is it?”
It’s a drying rack for gloves.
Out of all the weird things we’ve seen before, this has got to be in the top 5. This hand-shaped sculpture mounted to a wall in an old house is actually a glove drying rack. Maybe it’s because we don’t usually wear gloves, but this seems like an oddly specific tool and we would love to know who uses it.
“This metal tool with a wooden handle was unlabelled at the thrift store.”
It’s a rolling dumpling cutter.
As strange as this tool might look, it is actually a pretty simple mechanism. By rolling it along your dough, you get perfectly circular pieces of dumpling dough ready to be filled and cooked. This not only saves a lot of time but also makes your dumplings look extremely professional.
“Found these glass tubes in the attic of my 100-year-old home. Any idea what they are used for?”
These are glass vials used for single doses of medication.
While cleaning a home that has been in their family for a century, this person found some glass tubes but wasn’t sure what they were. According to the internet, these are ampoules, which can be filled with anything, and then get sealed by melting the glass with a flame. Back then, they were often used for single doses of medication.
“Husband’s truck exploded, this came out. What am I looking at?”
The catalyst of the truck’s catalytic converter.
Everything about this picture is quite puzzling. How did a truck just explode? Why did something come out while it exploded? What is this object? Well, according to a knowledgeable stranger on the internet, these are the inside parts of the truck’s catalytic converter.
“I found this little guy under a stair in a parking garage at the mall. The clothing is made out of thread and his hair is made by what seems like glue dipped into dirt?”
It’s a worry doll.
Dressed in traditional Mayan style, worry dolls (or Muñecas quitapenas) originate from the indigenous people of Guatemala. According to Guatemalan tradition, they take away your worries while you’re sleeping if you put them under your pillow at night.
“What is this? It’s made of cast iron and the bowls are about 6cm in diameter.”
It’s a dumplings pan.
Although it might look like an egg poacher, this pan is made of cast iron – which suggests it is actually used for making dumplings. A few types of dumplings that can be made using this pan are Danish æbleskiver, Dutch poffertjes, and Swedish äppelmunkar.