US-NEWS-OUTERBANKS-WEIRDOBJECT-MCT

A visitor to the Shackleford Banks off North Carolina found this object on June 1. The National Park Service can't identify it. 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. _ A "weird" dead thing washed ashore up along North Carolina's Outer Banks on June 1, and the National Park Service is asking for help identifying it.

The spiny object appears wormlike, but with a tight crust of ivory-colored thorns.

It washed up on the Shackleford Banks at Cape Lookout National Seashore and was found by a passer-by, the National Park Service said in a Facebook post.

"Weird things are found on the beach," the park service said. "We need some help identifying this object. ... So far, we're stumped as to what it might be."

Park Service staff have a few guesses. They think it could be a "plumed worm case," but have "no idea what the bony structures might be."

Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported explorers found a type of foot-long marine tube worm living on a part of the seafloor off North Carolina where methane gas seeps from the earth.

Dozens have responded to the park service post with guesses, including many who disagree with the tube worm theory. Some insist it's the spine of a puffer fish or a burrfish, while a few offered stranger ideas _ with one person suggesting it was poop of an unidentified animal.

"I'm not saying it's aliens, but ... " posted Jon Dodge on the park's Facebook page.

"The consensus is: there is no consensus!" wrote Ray Murphey.

"This freaks me out," posted Robin Hrycko Langley.

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