I recently read a Q/A with Stephanie Meyer and someone asked where she got the idea for imprinting and she said she watched a documentary about chicks and ducklings and went from there. That of course made me do a little google-research. It is a very interesting subject. 'The first scientific studies of this phenomenon were carried out by Austrian naturalist Konrad Lorenz (1903 - 1989), one of the founders of ethology (the study of animal behavior).'
Excerpt from Learning Who is Your Mother, The Behavior of Imprinting
by Silvia Helena Cardoso, PhD and Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD
"In the natural environment, behavioral imprinting acts as an instinct for survival in newborns. The offspring must immediately recognize its parent, because threatening events, such as the attack by a predator or by other adults could occur just after hatching. Thus, imprinting is very reliable to induce the formation of a strong social bond between offspring and parent, even if it is the wrong one.
This is only one of the many forms of imprinting which have been studied, and its called filial imprinting. Another form is sexual imprinting, in which birds learn the characteristics of their siblings, which later on will influence their mating preferences as adults. In greylag geese, filial and sexual imprinting occur almost simultaneously, but in other animals there is a clear interval between the two processes.
Imprinting in mammals is more rare. Primates are altricial animals, that is, they are born in a very "incomplete" state, with an exceedingly immature brain that will take many months to become fully operational, alert and active with all its senses and actions. Therefore the mother is the supreme caretaker and protector, and mother-child bonding takes place via other processes than imprinting. There is no hurry, so to say."
It made me think about my own mother and how I am glad that I have more sense than a duckling.
"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
-Frank Lloyd Wright