Lymnaea stagnalis (L., 1758) is among the most widespread and well-studied species of freshwater Mollusca of the northern hemisphere. It is also notoriously known for its huge conchological variability. The history of scientific exploration of this species may be traced back to the end of the 16th century (Ulisse Aldrovandi in Renaissance Italy) and, thus, L. stagnalis has been chosen as a proper model taxon to demonstrate how changes in theoretical foundations and methodology of animal taxonomy have been reflected in the practice of classification of a particular taxon, especially on the intraspecific level. In this paper, I depict the long story of recognition of L. stagnalis by naturalists and biologists since the 16th century up to the present day. It is shown that different taxonomic philosophies (essentialism, population thinking, tree thinking) led to different views on the species’ internal structure and its systematic position itself. The problem of how to deal with intraspecific variability in the taxonomic arrangement of L. stagnalis has been a central problem that made systematists change their opinion following conceptual shifts in taxonomic theory.