Charles R. Knight’s 1914 reconstruction of Ornitholestes (charcoal on paper) shows the little dinosaur catching an Archaeopteryx, promoting a lively view of an agile, carnivorous animal. The illustration is said to have been “influential and widely-published” and “continued to appear in dinosaur books aimed at a popular audience throughout the 20th century” (Donald F. Glut, “Ornitholestes”, in: Dinosaurs: The Encyclopedia, 1997, S. 645, cit. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ornitholestes).
Checking the iconographic background is important to find some yet unseen clues to the understanding of Alexis Rockman’s still life painting “Ornitholestes”, 1991 (many thanks to awhimsicalworldofdinosaurs.tumblr.com for the scan!). The debates surrounding the animals paleobiology and the influence of Knight’s art to Henry Osborns understanding of the dinosaur may be an important underlying aspect in Rockman’s painting. Like 17th century still life painters, nature is not reproduced from scratch but neatly organised in a man-made system, providing a view but not an understanding.
You can go with Katherine Dunn’s interpretation of the painting, too:
Seventeenth-century still-life painters trotted out their bravura skills to render foodstuffs as both ornamental and delectably edible. The genre conventions were simple: jewellike settings of fruits against velvety darkness, the illusion of casual arrangement, cut flowers matching beauty to beauty. But in Ornitholestes, 1991, Rockman sets his rose and raspberries outside, among ants, and introduces a sprightly Ray Harryhausen miniature dinosaur snatching his dinner egg from a vulnerable nest. The bird parent, who bears a remarkable resemblance to the predator, takes flight in terror. As if in one of the Greek tragedies evoked by the punning title, a reputed ancestor of the bird family has ripped through time to devour his own distant heirs - perhaps with the aid of the invisible human who collected those berries in a leaf. Birds don’t usually build nests so exposed; I suspect some bipedal interloper has placed it here. The dinosaur’s darkly comic interruption of this conventional scene jolts my recollection that creatures of his ilk are resurrected daily, channeled from their deep graves as petroleum. The present is powered by the immolation of the ancient dead, and one side-effect of the resulting pollution is damage to the reproductive capacities of the living.