NEW YORK (AP) _ Scientists should get a clue to how fast the Andes rose in the past 15 million years or so by studying fossils recently found high in the mountains, scientists say.

Remnants of some 1,500 specimens of land animals were among those recovered from a remote area of Chile, said Michael Novacek, a member of the expedition that found them in January.

The animals lived at sea level around 15 million years ago, and the growing Andes have lifted them about 5,000 feet since then, so ''we get some idea of rate of mountain-building,'' he said Thursday.

A variety of techniques will be used to confirm how long ago the animals lived, and consequently how long ago the ascent began, said expedition member John Flynn, assistant geological sciences professor at Rutgers University. The Andes are still rising, he said.

Novacek, chairman of the vertebrate paleontology department at the American Museum of Natural History, said the find included vertebrae and perhaps some other bones from a whale.

Bones from perhaps 20 kinds of land creatures were recovered, including several kinds of rodents and grazing animals that resemble horses, camels and rhinoceroses, Flynn said. The find will help tell about mammals living in that area when South America was isolated from other continents, he said.

The expedition was carried out in cooperation with Daniel Frassinetti of the National Museum in Santiago, Chile.