Some will go so far as to question whether humans have consciousness. Not current humans of course, but Julian Jaynes made a big splash with his book, "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind". Basically, he says that ancient people (up to only about 3000 years ago) could not think as we do today and were therefore not conscious. Some sort of catastrophe is supposed to have forced mankind to learn consciousness, so therefore consciousness itself is a product of human history and culture, and only originates from the human brain's left side. He says that prior to this breakthrough, humans lived in a hallucinatory state.
And this book is taken seriously. Is it any wonder that the question of animal consciousness persists?
I ask one simple question: If animals are not self-aware, why does a predator hide from, and stalk, his prey?
And the scientific community is not ruled by Jaynesian thought. In the March 2008 issue of National Geographic Magazine, Virginia Morell wrote this on the subject of animals imitating others:
Although imitation was once regarded as a simple-minded skill, in recent years cognitive scientists have revealed that it's extremely difficult, requiring the imitator to form a mental image of the other person's body and pose, then adjust his own body parts into the same position -- actions that imply an awareness of one's self.Good point.