There are many specific aspects of animal consciousness we might explore, but one that strikes me as especially important is this: the nature of an animal's grasp of the past. Of course animals recollect. Squirrels know where they have stashed their cache, elephants remember where poachers hid, ants know where to go in that crazy maze, and chickens recall dozens of human faces.
But recollection and memory are different. Recollection directs behavioral survival–where are those nuts? -- but memory enables narration, and the control of narration allows us to weave more nuanced meaning into life. It's perfectly possible that animals, most likely primates and whales, possess a consciousness that allows them to grasp their past as an abstraction that lends present existence, as well as future expectations, with continuity. A very meaningful continuity.
I genuinely wonder to what extent memory, and the life-affirming narration it allows, bears on the quality and meaning of life. Does a creature with a consciousness capable of arranging webs of memories into stories and myths and tall tales have a more meaningful life than a creature who lives life largely in the present but is able to access the past for isolated tidbits of survival data? And if so, does this distinction impact their moral standing in human society?