The Cephalopod International Advisory Council is convening in Vigo, Spain even as I write. Yes, I wish desperately that I were there right now! At least I can follow along by wistfully reading the abstract book, which they were kind enough to post.

Let's start at the very beginning . . . wait, the very beginning lists "restaurants nearby to the congress" and now I am imagining tortilla española auténtica and salivating . . . so let's not start at the beginning. Let's skip ahead to the symposium opening and the first invited talk:

Cephalopod embryology: a review, by Sigurd von Boletzky. That would have been something to see! Cephalopod embryos fascinate me. See, cephalopods lay yolky eggs (like chickens), which are kind of a nightmare for straight-up classical embryology. The classical embryologist wants to watch one big cell divide into two smaller cells, two into four, so forth and so on, and draw diagrams of the whole thing. But yolk doesn't like to divide. A very yolky egg doesn't split into two smaller cells, each with some yolk. No, the yolk sits heavily at the bottom while the top goes through an "incomplete division," followed by a whole lot more incomplete divisions. That big old yolk sac never divides, and you end up with a very cellular embryo hanging onto a completely acellular yolk sac. Very cool, but harder to study.

Consequently, we don't know nearly as much about yolky cephalopod embryos as we do about some of the nice yolk-free embryos, like sea urchins. But von Boletzky probably knows more than anyone, and I'd love to know what he knows.