What has been known/suspected for many years is now accepted science – consciousness is not unique to humans. On July 7 the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness was signed by a group of recognized authorities (cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologiests, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomist and computational neuroscientists). They were the attentees at the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and non-Human Animals. The document was presented by Philip Low, David Edelmann and Christof Koch and was signed by all participants at the conference. They declared:
“The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”
We have tool using, problem solving, and planning out of the way and now consciousness, so perhaps we can stop thinking that humans are so very, very difference from the rest of the animals. It is far more useful to be finding the evolutionary continuums between humans and other animals, rather than trying to find ways that we are unique. Of course we are unique in the sense that each-and-all species are unique. That is a trivial question of definition; species differ significantly from one another. But we are not uniquely unique. Everything we have must have a roots and commonalities in other primates. Accept it and use it to obtain a better understanding of ourselves.
Addition: thank you, Henk Poley, for your comment and link which I have brought up to the level of the post -
A direct link would have been nice: http://fcmconference.org/img/CambridgeDeclarationOnConsciousness.pdf