A ferocious fish with razor-sharp teeth dating from the Early Cretaceous has been dug up in the Australian outback by tourists.

The fossil – a lizardfish – has never been seen in Australia before. It was discovered by two fossil enthusiasts, Barbara and Gary Flewelling, while on holiday in Richmond in rural Queensland, from their home in Canada.

"We hadn't been out here very long, simply turning over the layers of limestone and the first thing that showed up was just the tail," Barbara Flewelling told ABC News.

"And with the next slab in front of it, we turned that up, and there was the centre of it with all the vertebrae and all of the ribs.

"It was almost perfect. You could see the teeth, you could see the jaw, and probably the most exciting thing is the fact that it hasn't been seen before."

The couple are regular fossil and gem hunters in the Australian outback. Gary Flewelling said that the lizardfish fossil find was "so much more fun" than the couple's previous finds of large sapphires.

The fossil is now on display at the Kronosaurus Korner museum in the Richmond outback. Museum curator Patrick Smith said the find was extremely rare and previously unknown in Australia. Lizardfish fossils have, however, previously been found in places such as Canada.

"This guy would have been swimming around in the waters, probably in large schools, and they used their large fanged teeth to grasp hold of smaller fish or even invertebrates who were swimming around in the water at the same time," Smith said.

This lizardfish lived in the Early Cretaceous period Patrick Smith / Kronosaurus Korner

Previous finds by volunteers with the Kronosaurus Korner museum includes a rare and ancient swordfish. Smith says that future digs planned in the Richmond outback include excavating the remains of an elasmosaur.

"An elasmosaur has a body of a turtle and the neck and head of a snake," he said. "We're going to be trying to dig that up in July."

Fossil hunters
Canadian fossil hunters Gary and Barbara Flewelling, who discovered the lizardfish, are pictured with Kronosaurus Korner curator Patrick Smith Patrick Smith / Kronosaurus Korner