First, view the video clips here: http://www.squirrels.org/t_video.html which are taken from a BBC special depicting a squirrel in England intent on stealing peanuts put out for birds. Inventors have tried every device imaginable, from electric shock devices to complicated mechanical systems, attempting to foil the squirrels . . . mostly without success. I saw those specials when they first aired, and what the clips do not show is the work and time the squirrel took to figure out how to negotiate the obstacle courses. If I remember correctly, for the second course it took him several days of trial and error. Then there’s Tyson, the skateboarding Bulldog: http://www.skateboardingbulldog.com/picsandmovies.htm My wife loves to ask me a question about funny animal behavior which is, “what do you think is going on in his mind???” Now, with the squirrel you can see a couple things easily. We can observe the squirrel looking at the peanuts and then exerting great effort to go after them. So we know a squirrel is capable of desire and determination. Obvious too is that Tyson the Bulldog reveals a willingness and ability to learn. What is more interesting is that it seems the squirrel is aware of his dexterity ability (because he applies it to an unfamiliar set of conditions); and the dog, although having also mastered many skills to get as good as he is, appears to be enjoying himself. We might expect the squirrel to apply dexterous skills to tree and ground stuff, but how does he know those skills can be adapted to the strange devices he finds in the obstacle course? And with Tyson, it seems amazing that he enjoys something so alien to dog evolution as skateboarding. Being petted makes sense to enjoy, being accepted into the human “pack” makes sense to, if not enjoy, at least be grateful about, joy at getting fed makes sense, and so on. In both cases we see the generalization of experience to unfamiliar circumstances. One wonders, are we observing fundamental traits of consciousness? Some thinkers today suggest consciousness is defined by mental activity of such quality that reason is achieved, and therefore only humans are conscious. Yet even a human doesn’t cease to be conscious if he/she stops thinking (as in meditation). Rather than thinking ability defining consciousness, possibly it is observed in the learning and feeling potentials all animal life exhibits (even worms and amoebae). Our squirrel friend might not be able to reason, but somehow he figured out a series of complicated steps involving timing, balance, up or down orientations, perching on a rolling conveyance, etc. Did he eventually “understand” how to navigate that course? Tyson might not be able to sit around with us telling jokes and laughing, but he was capable of finding joy (which I am interpreting as a response to something feeling good) in an activity which has little to do with being a Bulldog. Are the squirrel and Bulldog conscious?