Do you know what this is? (Pretty sure it's not a Tribble)


46 Responses to “Do you know what this is? (Pretty sure it's not a Tribble)”

  1. Chevan says:

    The color isn’t quite right, but visually it looks like a Marimo:

  2. Anonymous says:


  3. Clifton says:

    It’s a streetlight.

    Or possibly a zither.

  4. drongo says:

    Looks like a ball of dung made by a dung beetle to me.

  5. Dave Ng says:

    Cool. I’ll make sure to pass these suggestions on (both the bezoar and Marimo are things I’ve never heard of before – going to casually work them into dinner conversation tonight).

    As far as opening it up, the owner was apparently hesitant about doing that in case it was worth something.

  6. Pantograph says:

    Similar items can be found in my kitchen in a bag labeled “DRIED MONKEYHEAD MUSHROOM” Picked them up at a Chinese store once. Still don’t know what to do with them.

  7. moosehunter says:

    it looks like a unripened almond

  8. jimkirk says:

    Do not taunt Hairy Fun Ball.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh, I know I know I know I know!!!

    A tribble?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Last weekend, I made a trek to Mt. Angel, Oregon to see the world’s largest pig hairball — otherwise known as a bezoar, as other commenters have mentioned.

    It was incredible and looked a lot like this thing.

  11. Groone says:

    The fuzzy ball looks like a trichobezoar of some kind possibly from human Trichophagia or Repunzel syndrome although it is rare to find one so spherical so I would venture to say a small primate – lemur comes to mind due to the light color.

  12. Lissamphibia says:

    Re: the Mallorca comment above — those are apparently balls of debris from the marine plant Posidonia oceanica:

    and they are a very similar shape, size and color, but seem to have more of a coarse texture than the mystery fuzzball.

  13. TimDrew says:

    Maybe one of his friends from UBC sent him a moldy TimBit?

  14. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Chevan: that is (99% sure) a marimo in the first pic.

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is quite literally the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, and is a reason I stop by BoingBoing.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a tree seed-pod to me.

    Plant it and find out which kind of tree.

  17. apoxia says:

    If you want a disturbing visual foray, do an image search for trichobezoar. There are a few pics of cow balls there, but mostly human ones. Trichobezoars can be formed in the gut of people with trichotillomania (ingestion of their own body hair – usually from the scalp).

    • bardfinn says:


      Technically, a trichobezoar would be a bezoar made of three distinct parts combined into a whole.

      The font of almost-always-useless knowledge awaits the next trivia opportunity.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tri- means three, but tricho- means hair. A trichobezoar could have three chobezoars, but it’s more likely a hairy bezoar.

        • bardfinn says:

          I was so sure I was right, I spent a good half-hour digging out old books on Greek to argue it. I was wrong (I had been thinking of trikhotomoios, tri-chot-omy). You are correct, trichobezoar would be a bezoar that has something to do with hair. “Trichinobezoar” is a better formulation, grammatically (‘bezoar of hair’ makes more sense than ‘bezoarhair’/’hairbezoar’ ).

          The font of almost useless knowledge stands corrected.

  18. Anonymous says:

    What, it’s just pakku rotundus in its winter coat.

  19. Razzabeth says:

    An owl pellet? From eating a very furry small mammal? It’d be helpful if we could see the inside of it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Should have taken it to a topologist.

  21. Dave Ng says:

    HAIRY FUN BALL! (just saying I think that sounds awesome).

  22. SomeGuy says:

    When I was a kid we used to play marbles in the school playground. I had quite an impressive collection of “cat’s eyes” and “steelies” and “aggies”. Never had one of these “hairys” though……

  23. d15724c710n says:

    Just… don’t let it anywhere near water…

  24. querent says:

    No idea what that is, but if I lived close to this place, I’d be there every Saturday.

    “Good work, people.” –The Species

  25. Mazoola says:

    I wanted to claim it was one of these, but in reality it’s most likely a hairball removed from a cow’s stomach.

    Here’s a virtual duplicate from the Miller County [Missouri] Museum. (Scroll down to photo 33 if your browser fails to find the anchor the way mine did.)

    And another, enlarged to show detail.

  26. 4thAce says:

    Isn’t that first item a bezoar?

  27. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a dung beetle’s dung ball to me.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a cow hairball. The University of MN has some in their Bell Museum collection- up to 14″!

  29. Chrs says:

    Oh, you’re not far off on the lion-hairball idea for the bezoar in that first image. Cats are definitely not the only group that will get them, though, it’s reasonably common in cows, partly because they don’t hack them up like cats do. Animal dies, this gets weathered, or is kept by a person (many cultures consider them magic, see also Harry Potter, possibly including the Maasai), and the hair on the surface gets fluffed a bit.

  30. Anonymous says:

    It’s a trichobezoar, we have a couple in the collections of the Horniman Museum. Here’s one that I used as a Friday mystery object last year:

  31. uricacid says:

    could it be a bezoar?

  32. Anonymous says:

    inyrtplanetary fungus, see T. McKenna

  33. Anonymous says:

    Looks like a Hedge Apple to me

  34. Anonymous says:

    It looks like an insect gall to me.

  35. Anonymous says:

    The top one is a bezoar via the rather brilliant @paoloviscardi RT @PaoloViscardi @weirdimals @ITChE @dnghub is one of these: probably from a cow @boingboing

  36. Gawain Lavers says:

    Looks like something that would wash up on the beach in Mallorca, which locals called a “Nun’s Fart”.

  37. Anonymous says:

    The 1st pic is a bezoar made from hairs deposited over a foreign object inside the stomach of a ruminant.

    Read ( for a proper bezoar definition.

    I’m 100% sure as I have one exactly as the one pictured. Mine came out out of the stomach of a cow.

    P.S.> I’m a veterinarian.

  38. rimstalker says:

    I second the cow hairball idea.

    One of the farmers close to our home used to fertilize (?) his fields by spreading whatever leftovers from the slaughterhouse were to be had, and among cow’s eyes there were plenty of those balls in various sizes.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Sycamore trees have fruit that looks like that, but the ones I see aren’t usually more than 1.5in in diameter, however Arkansas climate is a bit more extreme than the UK. My kids like to take them apart. The inside has a hard ball on a stalk. Good for when the kids play fairies.

  40. Anonymous says:

    It does look like a large seed pod. i pass by a tree every day that has pods like this that are brighter in color and the size of tennis balls

  41. Tzunun says:

    Owl pellets are elliptical and not so uniform in color and texture. My first thought was a bezoar, but based on the small size, uniform tan color, and appearance of short, velvety fuzz sticking straight out from the surface, I’m thinking it’s a gall.

  42. Lissamphibia says:

    Any context at all for the unknown fuzzy sphere? How heavy/dense is it? Is it solid or hollow — does the surface “give” at all when poked? Can you tell whether the individual hairs are actually attached to/growing out of the surface, or are they just frizzy bits sticking out of a mat of hair? (Can we get a magnified view?) Any chance of scanning the interior in some way, if cutting into it is right out?

    To me (as an ecology student), it looks like a gall. (From Wikipedia: “Plant galls are abnormal outgrowths of plant tissues and can be caused by various parasites, from fungi and bacteria, to insects and mites.” A bit like a fancy plant wart or tumor.)

    Galls can take on all sorts of strange forms and textures, from the more familiar smooth papery spheres, to bizarre structures that look like clusters of pink tentacles, clusters of grapes, or even fuzzy blobs.

    Yes, *fuzzy* — there is such a thing as a Fuzzy Oak Gall Wasp (Disholcaspis washingtonensis), and there are probably related species in England. Here’s a picture of the galls it causes when it lays its eggs in oak trees:

    That’s just an example — I’m no gall wasp expert. Callirhytis sp. wasps also cause “woolly oak galls”:

    and “woolsower galls”:

    and there are many, many more types of cynipid wasps. Hooray science!

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