In animals and plants, the H3K9me3 and H3K27me3 chromatin silencing marks are deposited by different protein machineries. H3K9me3 is catalyzed by the SET-domain SU(VAR)3-9 enzymes, while H3K27me3 is catalyzed by the SET-domain Enhancer-of-zeste enzymes, which are the catalytic subunits of Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2). Here, we show that the Enhancer-of-zeste-like protein Ezl1 from the unicellular eukaryote Paramecium tetraurelia, which exhibits significant sequence and structural similarities with human EZH2, catalyzes methylation of histone H3 in vitro and in vivo with an apparent specificity toward K9 and K27. We find that H3K9me3 and H3K27me3 co-occur at multiple families of transposable elements in an Ezl1-dependent manner. We demonstrate that loss of these histone marks results in global transcriptional hyperactivation of transposable elements with modest effects on protein-coding gene expression. Our study suggests that although often considered functionally distinct, H3K9me3 and H3K27me3 may share a common evolutionary history as well as a common ancestral role in silencing transposable elements.