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Cetaceans (dolphins, porpoises and whales) have been of greatest interest to the astrobiology community and to those interested in consciousness and selfawareness in animals. This interest has grown primarily from knowledge of the intelligence, language and large complex brains that many cetaceans possess. The study of cetacean and primate brain evolution and cognition can inform us about the contingencies and parameters associated with the evolution of complex intelligence in general, and, the evolution of consciousness. Striking differences in cortical organization in the brains of cetaceans and primates along with shared cognitive capacities such as self-awareness, culture, and symbolic concept comprehension, tells us that cetaceans represent an alternative evolutionary pathway to complex intelligence on this planet.