Ancient sea predator
[Representative Image] Fossil specimen of Habelia optata from the Royal Ontario Museum.Jean-Bernard Caron, Royal Ontario Museum

Now that's called a once-in-a-lifetime discovery. A 10-year-old was on a tour of a 17th-century monastery in Colombia when he "stumbled" upon a rare 90 million-year-old fossil that belonged to a species of lizard fish. 

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Rio Santiago Dolmetsch, the young tourist, discovered the fossil when he visited the Monastery of La Candelaria in Colombia in 2015. During his tour, he noticed that a stone in the monastery had the shape of a fish. The finding was later shown to experts at a local museum. Scientists were shocked to find out that the fossil was a first for the continent.

After research, scientists revealed that the fossil, named Candelarhynchus padillai, belonged to a rare species of lizard fish, which is extinct and has no living relatives. The fossil was later analyzed by researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. 

"A kid was walking into the monastery during a tour when he noticed the shape of a fish in flagstones on the ground," Javier Luque, a PhD candidate at the University of Alberta, said in a statement. "He took a photo and, a few days later, showed it to the staff at the Centro de Investigaciones Paleontologicas, a local museum with whom we collaborate to protect and study fossil findings from the region."

Researchers took three years to study the fossil and they believe the species lived 90 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.

"It is rare to find such a complete fossil of a fish from this moment in the Cretaceous period. Deepwater fish are difficult to recover, as well as those from environments with fast flowing waters. But what surprises me the most is that, after 15 years of being on a walkway, it was still intact. It's amazing," Oksana Vernygora, the lead author of the study, told National Geographic.

The lizard fish, which had a slender body, long-jawed and fine-toothed, swam through the waters of South America and fed on crustaceans, larvae and molluscs.