Penelope, lovely posts and welcome to IO. I don't know if you had heard something by an anthropologist or sociobiologist; I'm a cultural anthropologist myself and have trained horses for years and I often compare their responses to human responses. I'd say that other intelligent social animals also have a sense of curiosity- I've seen it in dogs, horses, cats, birds, bears, coyotes, cows, even squirrels. But I think humans are somewhat unique in our sense of adventure. It was Homo erectus that first looked out at the distant horizon and started walking, without any substantial evidence that this was done for ecological or other evolutionary reasons. It seems that at some point, humans just started to be curious about distant places, and later, the depths of themselves. Philosophy, religion, art... perhaps rudimentary in animals, but a huge part of human life. Now, I think animals, plants, even rocks have a lot more consciousness than most people give credit for. But it's a different kind of consciousness, a different way of communicating. Humans seem to be at a peak of individual being-ness in nature, a sort of extreme on the scale of unity and diversity as consciousness. On the other end of this continuum is a total loss of self and individual identity- the sort that occurs when our left brain shuts down and we can't even distinguish between our own atoms and the atoms of a wall, floor, or the air around us. For me, bliss is a sense of finding the unity, of a deep joy that comes from an inner realization of the profound peace that is in the part of me that is infinite and eternal... that which is connected to the entire universe. Reading your wonderful story about the bike trek reminded me of when my mother, aunt, sister and I traveled to Crazy Horse to release my grandfather's ashes into a coming storm. As we did so, the clouds parted, a rainbow arched above and there was an amazing sense of connection, of rightness.